By Ralph Ellis
Business groups say the new Georgia immigration bill will hurt the state’s economy, but it is providing work for one Sandy Springs lawyer.
Charles Kuck said he’ll seek a court order against House Bill 87. By filing in mid-May, a judge would have time to rule before the bill goes into effect July 1, Kuck said. Gov. Nathan Deal had not signed the bill as of May 3, but has said he plans to do so.
Kuck declined to name his clients. Numerous business and industry groups oppose the bill, including the Georgia Chamber of Commerce and the Georgia Farm Bureau.
Some business people and government officials said they’ve done little to prepare for the new law.
Dunwoody Police Chief Billy Grogan said he’s launched no new training programs yet because he has not digested the details of the proposed law. The law would give local and state police the power to investigate the immigration status of some suspects and transport them to jails.
A home builder, Bill Grant of Dunwoody, said the new law will be bad for his business, but saw no point preparing for the law because the construction industry has slowed down so much.
“It will take a giant chunk out of the workforce and the economy,” Grant said of the new law. He said it will hurt all industries that rely on immigrant workers, such as the landscaping, home repair and restaurant industries. Grant, chairman of the Dunwoody Chamber of Commerce, said he spoke for himself, not the organization.
The Georgia Restaurant Association, with headquarters in Buckhead, opposes House Bill 87 but favors immigration reform at the federal level. Kelly Hornbuckle, marketing and communications manager for the GRA, said the new bill will probably be a major topic of discussion at the group’s annual meeting in June.
Employers with more than 10 employees would have to check their immigration status through an Internet program called E-Verify by July 1, 2013.
Jerry Gonzalez, spokesman for the Georgia Association of Latino Elected Officials, headquartered in Chamblee, said the law could drive immigrants out of the state.“What good is it going to do for employers to have E-Verify if they don’t have willing workers?” he said.