A small victory was recently reached for proponents of immigration reform in Georgia, as the state defeated a ban on the issuing of drivers licenses to undocumented immigrants. The ban first arose in response to the executive order of President Obama to attempt to defer deportation for nearly 5 million undocumented immigrants currently residing in the U.S. While that order is being appealed after a federal judge in Texas led an injunction to block it, the drivers license victory is not to be overlooked. The increased mobility that will be afforded to these individuals will expand their options in terms of employment, which should help undocumented immigrants lead a more sustainable life in America.
The proposed ban
Initially, the ban was introduced by Sen. Josh McKoon, a republican, according to The International Business Times. McKoon argued that undocumented immigrants were costing the state of Georgia at least $2.4 billion each year. McKoon argued that imposing a ban prohibiting these undocumented individuals from receiving drivers licenses would dissuade more immigrants from coming to America. While his proposed amendment received some traction from other republicans in Georgia’s government with similar views, it was ultimately defeated on Monday, March 30. In speaking on the matter, Sen. Nan Orrock, a democrat from Atlanta, said that McKoon’s ban was received as foolish by numerous major corporations based in the state, suggesting that these companies do not want their options limited by mobility when it comes to potential employees.
“International corporations who have their North American headquarters here feel this is very ill-advised legislation,” Orrock told the Atlanta Business Journal.
When all was said and done, the ban on issuing drivers licenses to undocumented immigrants never even came close to passing into law. According to multiple sources, the proposed ban was defeated by a vote of 27-16.
“The proposed ban was defeated by a vote of 27-16”
The final vote tally illustrates the fact that many lawmakers in Georgia don’t support this kind of discrimination against undocumented immigrants, and feel that those who have deferred amnesty from deportation should receive many of the same benefits as citizens. While there were undoubtedly an entire host of objections to the reasons behind the ban, many lawmakers argued that it was unfair to impose such a stipulation against individuals who were brought here as children and had no say in the matter. Speaking with the Atlanta Business Journal, Sen. Curt Thompson, a democrat from Norcross, summated this viewpoint well.
“This is going after college students and members of the military who are not here because of any action of their own,” said Thompson.
While there is still a great deal of legislation up in the air concerning national and state-specific immigration policy, it cannot be denied that this is a considerable step forward. Undocumented immigrants in Georgia will now have the ability to transport themselves and their families legally to work, school and anywhere else they choose to go.