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Illegal immigration and how Georgia can deal with it

True or false: Illegal immigration is a federal issue and nothing can be done by state government about the criminal employers who hire illegal aliens here in Georgia?

Criminal employers? Yes, it is a federal felony to hire an illegal alien.

That's right - illegal alien. Someone who is not a citizen and is present in our country in violation of the law.

Immigrants, by federal definition, enter the U.S. lawfully, with the intention of permanent residence.

Real immigrants deserve far better than to be categorized with those who wake up one day and decide that American laws do not apply to them if they can make more money here than in their own countries - and access free medical and educational benefits in their own language.

My adopted sister is a real, legal immigrant from Korea. Ask her, or anyone else who has joined the American family according to American rules, if they approve of watching while the line between illegal aliens and immigrants is intentionally blurred.

Ask them in English.

So back to the question. Can Georgia do anything to make the millions of illegal aliens who walk over our barbed-wire border look for a less friendly destination? Can Georgia government make an effort to see that taxpayer dollars go to citizens and real immigrants?

Let's see what other states have done.

Last year, Arizona put laws into place that, gasp, require a potential voter to prove American citizenship. Also, that any state taxpayer-funded benefits not already federally mandated go only to applicants who can prove citizenship or legal immigration status.

The Democratic governor of Arizona, Janet Napolitano, recently signed an executive order requiring that state contractors be monitored to ensure that they only employ workers who possess valid and legal social security numbers. Hmm, state government obeying existing federal immigration and employment law?

What next? States actually enforcing immigration law?

Well, yes.

Nearly three years ago, Alabama decided to take advantage of a section of the 1996 Immigration and Nationality Act. Our neighbor, with less than 10 percent of the illegal alien population of Georgia, sent two separate groups of its state troopers to be federally trained and authorized to not only enforce immigration laws, but also to apprehend and detain violators.

They had some wild idea that absent the promised federal protection of secure borders and interior immigration enforcement, doing so would help control gangs largely made up of violent meth-dealing illegals.

The fact that Alabama has made more than 200 immigration arrests and confiscated cocaine, meth and marijuana - and taken hundreds of thousands of dollars in drug money off the street - seems to prove the wisdom of at least trying to fight illegal immigration on the state level.

Knowing that Florida and Arizona have also taken advantage of this authority - and that Tennessee, Arkansas and the city government of Costa Mesa, Calif., are in the process of doing the same should make us all ask why Georgia has not.

It looks like the answer to the question above is false. Illegal immigration is not a federal issue - it is a national issue. State governments can make an effort to protect citizens from the costly illegal immigration crisis that we can no longer ignore.

Georgia has one of the largest and fastest growing populations of illegal aliens in the nation.

At present, under the Gold Dome, there are several bills pending that will serve to encourage illegal aliens to go to other states. One, Senate Bill 169, says that state contracts go only to employers who hire legal labor. (Ask yourself: Why do we need a bill for this when the governor of Arizona did it with the stroke of a pen?)

Another, Senate Bill 170, says that applicants for non-federally mandated services prove legal residence. And Senate Bill 336, which requires an employer who wants to deduct the wages of his employees from his state income tax to verify their Social Security numbers when they are hired.

Passing these bills into law and then enforcing the law makes sense for Georgia.

There are more bills coming. They are long past due.

D.A. King is president of The Dustin Inman Society, a Marietta-based coalition of citizens with the goal of educating the Georgia public on the consequences of illegal immigration.