Wrong threshold

Georgia state House passes bill allowing police to arrest anyone suspected of being in country illegally

This law would allow police in Georgia to arrest anyone they suspect of being in the country illegally. This is easy to abuse and means people who are foreign must carry their “papers” at all times and also makes them more vulnerable to bullying because if someone can steal or rob them of their papers, then give a “tip” to the police, they can cause someone to be arrested. This also means the person is not at their house or apartment, leaving their valuables or family unprotected.

Unless there is a warrant already out for someone’s arrest, an arrest must be based on behavior and not status.

What happens when it turns out that the person is actually here legally? Is there any provision in this law for recourse? Is there any provision in this law requiring that any “tips” be only from people whose own identity and citizenship has been verified?

A better version of this law would require citizenship or immigration documents to be provided when entering into a rental agreement, opening an account at a bank or credit union, getting a driver’s license, etc. and requiring those organizations to report any tenants ,accounts, or people served who were not able to provide the papers. The people should still be served if they are eligible, but lack of identity documents will probably be a barrier in many places. Such people should be referred to the immigration office. For people who are possibly here illegally but otherwise eligible and are served, the report should trigger the welcome committee to check it that person is already on a path towards a permit or naturalization and if they are not, to reach out and get it started.

Not everyone who arrives here illegally is a criminal.

We must make a distinction between doing something that is prohibited by a law and has the potential to hurt people or cause damage or be a nuisance (entering illegally, driving too fast on the highway, putting neon lights under your car, etc.) and doing something that actually hurts people or damages property or the environment. We should not treat all offenses the same way.

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