Published January 03, 2013
Atlanta – A Georgia lawmaker wants to reduce the unnecessary work some state agencies have complained was caused by a tough Georgia law cracking down on illegal immigration.
The 2011 law requires anyone applying for or renewing public benefits -- including food stamps and professional licenses, among other things -- to provide a "secure and verifiable" document proving their U.S. citizenship or legal presence in the country.
Georgia state Rep. Dusty Hightower, a Republican, filed legislation Thursday that says U.S. citizen applicants will not have to resubmit their documents to renew a public benefit or when they apply for a different public benefit from the same agency.
The law was aimed at preventing people who are in Georgia illegally from obtaining public benefits.
Secretary of State Brian Kemp has said the requirement has led to delays in processing professional licenses. Other officials at various levels of government throughout Georgia have also complained, saying the law has increased their workload significantly.
Georgia was among several states in the nation that passed laws in recent years to crack down on illegal immigration. Proponents of such laws argue that the federal government has failed in its responsibility to manage immigration, and that inaction in Washington D.C. has forced state officials to take the matter into their own hands.
The Obama administration has fought state efforts to enforce their own immigration laws, saying that the issue is purely a federal matter. President Obama has said that he has tried to push for comprehensive immigration reform that would include stricter enforcement as well as a pathway to legalization for undocumented immigrants, but that Republicans have undermined those efforts.
Republicans have countered that Obama has overstated his efforts to reform immigration in order to court Latino voters.
Both the Obama administration and some key Republicans leaders in Congress have vowed to work to reform the immigration system during the president's second term.
This story includes material from The Associated Press.