Georgia immigration bill: Latino officials, civil rights groups voice concerns over rhetoric

State Rep. Jesse Petrea, R-Savannah, is sponsoring House Bill 1105 and says the immigration legislation simply reinforces current state law.

"A foreign national, who is in this country illegally, has to be reported to ICE. That is current state law, but it's oftentimes not happening," Petrea explained.

Critics maintain bills like HB 1105, which would allow law enforcement to arrest someone suspected of being in the country illegally and require local law enforcement officers to work with federal immigration officials, will do more harm than good.

HB 1105 critics call bill ‘stereotyping’

The Georgia Association of Latino Elected Officials expressed concern in a written statement Monday saying, "The current slate of proposals...would violate constitutional freedoms, ignore the needs of local communities, and perpetuate harmful stereotypes about Latinos and immigrants."

Civil rights groups across Georgia are expressing similar concerns over what they call divisive rhetoric surrounding the nation's immigration policies, and its impact on immigrants.

"What I'd call an explosion of attacks, threats, ways in which to make our brothers and sisters who are immigrants uncomfortable," said Dr. Ben Williams, who serves as president of the Cobb SCLC.


GOP lawmakers at the state and federal level are pushing for tougher immigration laws following the death of Augusta University nursing student Laken Riley, whose alleged killer was in the country illegally.

"I believe that if you do not abide by the law, then justice reigns supreme," said Williams. "But to indict a whole class of people by the acts of individuals is way out of bounds."

Open letter to Gov. Kemp on immigration

The Cobb SCLC and the Cobb Immigrant Alliance accuse Gov. Brian Kemp, who has criticized the Biden Administration's immigration policies, of bullying, fear, and hate mongering towards Georgia’s migrant community.

In an open letter to Kemp, released Monday, the group stated:

"In response to the tragic murder of UGA student Laken Riley, you have taken to the air waves politicizing this tragedy... while spreading fear and hate of the migrant community in the worst form of political opportunism and bullying possible. "

FOX 5 reached out to the governor’s office Monday. A spokesperson said they had no comment.