Citing a “national crisis” at the U.S.-Mexico border, Georgia Senate Republicans took an unequivocal stance on immigration reform: build the wall.
Senate Resolution 543, which passed in a 31-15 vote, explicitly ties federal immigration policies to a rise in fentanyl smuggling, despite federal data indicating that nearly 90% of people arrested on fentanyl trafficking charges are U.S. citizens.
The resolution, which was authored by state Sen. Steve Gooch (R-Dahlonega), also cements Georgia’s support for Texas Gov. Greg Abbott’s immigration policies, and calls for the federal government to reinstate two Trump-era immigration reforms that have since been overturned.
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Executive Order 13768, which was declared unconstitutional by a U.S. district court in the first year of former President Donald Trump’s presidency, would have cut federal funding for “sanctuary cities” that refused to cooperate with Immigration and Customs Enforcement. Proclamation 9844 declared a national emergency at the U.S.-Mexico border, and allowed the former president to divert billions of dollars from military construction funds to build a border wall. Both orders were formally overturned by President Joe Biden.
Georgia is more than 800 miles from the country’s southern border. But Senate Republicans insist that current Democrat-led immigration policies have rendered that point moot.
“Because of failures in Washington, D.C., every state is now a border state,” said state Sen. Bo Hatchett (R-Cornelia), who cosponsored the resolution.
“I want to thank (Georgia) Gov. (Brian) Kemp and the 15 other governors for going to the border to look at this crisis,” said state Sen. Brandon Beach (R-Alpharetta), who also cosponsored the resolution. “It’s not just touching Texas and the southern border. It’s now touching every state in this country.”
However, state Senate Democrats decried rhetoric that linked undocumented immigration to fentanyl smuggling, a trend they say is not supported by federal crime statistics.
“The fact of the matter is that tying immigration to crime and fentanyl cannot be credibly backed up by any data,” said state Sen. Jason Esteves (D-Atlanta). “Any research that has been conducted has shown that there is no tie between the fentanyl crisis and immigration, and while blaming immigrants for this crisis grabs headlines, it’s not rooted in clear data.”
A proposed amendment to the resolution written by state Sen. Elena Parent, which would have urged Congress to pass a bipartisan immigration deal, was voted down on the Senate floor shortly before the resolution passed.
Kemp is scheduled to give a speech addressing immigration reform on Tuesday.