FEBRUARY 20, 2008
Lawmakers in a southern state hit hard by illegal immigration have proposed legislation that allows police to seize cars from illegal immigrants, stirring accusations of racism and xenophobia from so-called Latino leaders.
Fed up with the huge toll that illegal immigration has taken statewide, Georgia lawmakers introduced the measure that they say will help curb the widespread crisis of illegal aliens who present a danger to law-abiding citizens on the road.
They say that thousands of illegal immigrants, many of them uninsured, drive on Georgia highways daily and many have caused serious accidents. The measure, which is gaining momentum among lawmakers, would work similar to property seizures in drug cases. It will also apply to rented and leased vehicles if the owner knows the driver was an illegal immigrant.
During a recent heated discussion on the law before Georgia’s House Special Rules Committee, a tearful Cherokee County woman told the devastating story of how an illegal Mexican immigrant with no license plowed into her mother-in-laws car, killing her 5-year-old son and the mother-in-law. The woman told legislators that the law should be passed for safety reasons.
Immigrant rights groups as well as Peach State Latino leaders condemn the proposed measure saying it will amount to racial profiling during traffic stops. The executive director of a powerful Georgia Latino trade group of elected officials and community leaders said the state legislature is out of control and needs to reign in the xenophobic, racist legislators that are targeting the immigrant community.
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