Despite at least one inaccurate and breathless headline from the AJC and slanted coverage in other media reports, Rep Jesse Petrea’s House Bill 452 should have been a quick and easy pass for the state Senate. But with only two days of the current session remaining, final passage is up in the air.
This reluctant denizen of the Gold Dome has battled the corporate-funded anti-borders lobbyists for years and knew there would be resistance to Petrea’s bill. But it came as somewhat of a surprise when some Senate Republicans moved to weaken the language.
A review and some educated observations:
As it breezed through the House Public Safety and Homeland Security Committee with a bipartisan, unanimous “do pass” recommendation from the 14 members present, Petrea’s one-pager said the Georgia Bureau of Investigation must share with Georgia sheriffs’ and the general public information it has been receiving for at least 18 months on criminal aliens released by the feds onto Georgia streets.
According to the latest figures given to congress by Immigration & Customs Enforcement (ICE), in 2015 ICE freed 19,723 criminal aliens, with a total of 64,197 convictions among them. These included 8,234 violent convictions and 208 homicide convictions.
The bill language was constructed so that GBI would share all of the information offered by ICE under the EID/LENS system.
Cobb County Sheriff Neil Warren personally testified in the House sub-committee process in hearty support of the bill. He also expressed some surprise that his office was not made aware of the existence of the information before the legislative process began. Gwinnett County Sheriff, Butch Conway sent a deputy to convey his support. The GBI made it clear that there were no problems or prohibitive added expenses to the data sharing.
HB 452 then passed the House with a 144-26 vote on March 3rd.
But when it reached the Senate Public Safety Committee, the bill ran into problems with language added by legislators who did not appear to understand the bill and who clearly lack any basic knowledge of the illegal immigration crisis.
The amendment restricts the information shared by GBI to only “violent and serious” crimes. It was formally offered by Vice-Chairman Senator John Albers, but anyone who watched the committee process – or views the citizen-captured video (45:48) – can see that it was Chairman Tyler Harper who initiated the change that weakened the bill.
The Harper-Albers amendment says that GBI should only pass on data to sheriffs and the public concerning the release of criminal aliens released by the feds in Georgia who have “committed violent or serious crimes.” The language added with no definition of “serious.”
The Center for Immigration Studies reported on the information given to Congress by ICE on the criminal aliens released in 2015. We invite readers – including state senators – to peruse the list of crimes associated with the released aliens in the CIS report and to decide which of them are, or are not, “serious.”
With (accurate) coverage at National Review, Breitbart and here at IAG, HB 452 has gained statewide national attention and the outcome of the bill will reflect the power of the anti-enforcement, far-left in the Republican senate.
On Friday, Senate Majority Leader Bill Cowsert hijacked Petrea’s amended bill on the Senate floor with the addition of modified language from leadership’s SB 1 that foundered in the House committee process. To get to Gov. Nathan Deal’s desk, the now voluminous floor substitute must go back to the Senate Rules Committee, the Senate floor and then to the House for a vote on “agree or disagree.” And all of this must happen before Thursday at midnight.
Somewhere along the line the Harper-Albers language that watered down a well-written and wise piece of public safety legislation should be removed.
We have at least one conclusion and recommendation of our own. In a state with more illegal aliens than Arizona, candidates for election to Georgia’s legislature should be carefully vetted for basic knowledge on illegal immigration— and on writing legislation.
D.A. King is president of the Dustin Inman Society.