Legislators and Community Groups Call for Economic Considerations for Immigrant Law

Concerns are raised about potential negative impact on Georgia’s economy

ATLANTA (December 16, 2010) – Anticipated legislative proposals from the Georgia General Assembly’s Joint Legislative Committee on Immigration Reform are raising serious concerns about the impact on Georgia’s fragile economic recovery outlook.  In the face of Congressional failure to address immigration reform, the threat of job killing measures such as those that passed in Arizona loom over the upcoming legislative session.  Sen. Nan Orrock (D-Atlanta) and Rep. Virgil Fludd (D-Tyrone) call for comprehensive hearings that will look at the problem and demand a solution to protect Georgia’s security and economic recovery.

Agriculture is the backbone of Georgia’s economy.  U.S. Senator Saxby Chambliss (R-GA) has estimated that our nation’s agricultural workforce is 50-70% undocumented workers.  The Georgia Farm Bureau last week weighed in on this issue, opposing any consideration of an Arizona-type anti-immigrant law for our state and demanding that Congress act.  Clearly, given the devastating impact on agriculture of threatening this workforce, the Georgia Legislature should not consider passage of the kind of legislation that would negatively impact our leading industry.

Georgia’s economic recovery strategies include significant efforts to attract and retain foreign investment.  Legislators were briefed earlier this week at the Biennial Session in Athens about the deepening project for the Port of Savannah that expands its capacity and as a deep water port in order to remain competitive and grow our economy.  This massive undertaking has significant support from our state’s leadership, and has been identified as a high priority for the state’s economic growth plans.  A legislative proposal which would paint Georgia as a state unwelcoming to people of other nations would hamper Georgia’s efforts to attract foreign investment at a critical time.

Moreover, Georgia relies heavily upon our tourism, convention and sports industries in places like Atlanta, Savannah, Macon and other great destinations in Georgia.  Any legislation that would create a negative perception of Georgia around the world could harm Georgia’s competitiveness in our global economy. 

Georgia State Representative Virgil Fludd, expressing concern with the failure of the current Immigration Reform committee to fully investigate the critical facts, said, “Given the need for job protection and creation at this perilous economic time, we call on other concerned colleagues to join with us in convening a hearing process that will address immigration issues in a comprehensive way.” 

Senator Nan Orrock, a member of the Senate Agriculture and Consumer Affairs Committee, indicated that “Balanced investigative hearings must address the potentially serious economic consequences of any legislation proposed during the upcoming legislative session.” 

Experts on immigration, Georgia’s economy, the agricultural industry, and working members of our state’s diverse communities should be included in the hearings to bring testimony to more fully outline the economic role and impact of Georgia’s immigrant workforce and to propose legislative measures that spur job growth and strengthen Georgia’s economy.

Given the fact that immigration is a complex issue requiring an understanding of economics, federalism and American history and Constitutional law, it is important that the legislative investigation and hearing process is complete and unbiased.  The legislators expressed their commitment to a full and fair examination of the issues that will lay the groundwork to bolster Georgia’s economic vitality and promote our state’s economic engine as a welcoming and prosperous place.

Sen. Nan Orrock represents the 36th Senate District, which includes portions of Fulton County. She may be reached by phone at 404.463.8054 or via e-mail at nan.orrock@senate.ga.gov.

Rep. Virgil Fludd represents the 66th House District, which includes portions of Fayette and Fulton counties.  He may be reached by phone at 404.656.0314 or via e-mail at vfludd@mindspring.com

For Immediate Release:
December 16, 2010
For Information Contact:
Natalie Strong, Director
Kallarin Richards, Deputy Director