ATLANTA (Reuters) - President Barack Obama
Tuesday criticized an immigration bill passed by Georgia's
Legislature that would give police authority to question
suspects about their immigration status.
Obama also defended his administration's record on securing
U.S. borders and repeated his call for comprehensive
The Georgia bill is similar to one passed by Arizona last
year that sparked a national debate on state attempts to crack
down on illegal immigration.
Arizona's law criminalizes illegal immigration by defining
it as trespass and allows local law enforcement agencies to
question anyone they suspect lacks correct immigration papers.
Asked about the Georgia bill, Obama said: "It is a mistake
for states to try to do this piecemeal. We can't have 50
different immigration laws around the country. Arizona tried
this and a federal court already struck them down."
"The truth of the matter is that we've done more on
enforcement than any previous administration. We have more
border patrols. We have been engaging in serious crackdowns on
employers who are hiring undocumented workers," Obama said in
an interview with WSB-TV, which is based in Atlanta.
Georgia's Senate passed the bill this month but stripped
out a state House requirement for many private employers to
check the immigration status of newly hired employees on a
federal database called E-Verify.
Republican Governor Nathan Deal told local television
Tuesday he was reviewing the legislation but planned to sign it
A U.S. appeals court this month upheld an earlier court
ruling that blocked parts of Arizona's immigration law from
going into effect.
That included a provision that would require police to
determine the immigration status of a person they have detained
and suspect is in the country illegally.
Arizona-inspired immigration measures also are proceeding
through legislatures in other states including Alabama,
Indiana, Oklahoma and South Carolina.
(Writing by Matthew Bigg; Editing by Peter Bohan)
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