Two leading Latino organizations in Atlanta support the Atlanta Convention and Visitors Bureau’s resolution opposing Georgia’s pending immigration legislation.
The CEOs of both the Georgia Hispanic Chamber of Commerce and the Latin American Association told GlobalAtlanta that the decision of the bureau’s executive committee helped underscore the threat that the legislation would have on the state’s convention and tourism business.
The convention and visitor’s bureau passed a resolution April 29 opposing the legislation saying that Atlanta’s reputation as a “welcoming” city would be harmed.
“I applaud the decision. It is the right thing to do,” said Millie Irizarry, CEO of the association. “I’m sure they are concerned about the economic impact of the legislation on Georgia’s economy, especially because similar legislation has had such a negative effect on Arizona.”
Tisha Tallman, president and CEO of the Georgia Hispanic Chamber of Commerce, said that she still hoped Gov. Nathan Deal would refrain from signing the bill.
“There will continue to be efforts expressing opposition to the legislation,” she added. “It would be such a positive step to put this behind us and move forward. It is important that the economic recovery proceed and that we continue to be thinking about growing globally.”
Both executives said their organizations have contacted Mr. Deal’s office encouraging the governor not to approve the legislation even though he has said that he would.
The association provides a wide variety of humanitarian services to Atlanta’s Latino communities. The Hispanic chamber is one of the largest Hispanic chambers in the U.S. with 1,300 members.
Other organizations opposed to the legislation for economic reasons include the Georgia Farm Bureau, the Georgia Restaurant Association, the Government Contractors Association and the Georgia Agribusiness Council.
In addition to their fears about the economic impact of the legislation, the executives expressed their concerns about the humanitarian issues involved.
They said that immigration issues should be resolved by the federal government and expressed concern for the impact that the state legislation would have on immigrant families with members who have lived in the U.S. for many years without proper documentation.
“From the time of the Olympics, immigrants were recruited came here,” Ms. Irizarry said of the 1996 Summer Olympics. “There now are many families with mixed union status. We need to take into consideration the families that are here and deal with them in a humanitarian way.”
Ms. Irizarry said that the association was in the process of putting together a white paper that would cover in depth its concerns about the legislation.
House Bill 87, which the General Assembly passed last month, mandates that companies with more than 10 full-time employees register with the federal program E-Verify to check the legal status of new hires and creates the offense of “aggravated identity theft” for the use of false information.
It also authorizes law enforcement officers to check the legal status of suspected criminals if they are unable to provide identification and makes harboring an illegal immigrant an offense.