The Georgia Senate resolution calls for policy changes

Citing a “national crisis” at the U.S.-Mexico border, Republicans in the Georgia Senate took a clear stance on immigration reform: Build the wall.

Senate Resolution 543, which passed by a vote of 31-15, explicitly links federal immigration policies to a rise in fentanyl smuggling, even though federal data indicates that nearly 90% of people arrested for fentanyl trafficking are U.S. residents -are citizens.

The resolution, authored by State Senator Steve Gooch (R-Dahlonega), also reiterates Georgia's support for Texas Gov. Greg Abbott's immigration policies and calls on the federal government to reinstate two Trump-era immigration reforms that have since been repealed.

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Executive Order 13768, declared unconstitutional by a U.S. district court during the first year of former President Donald Trump's presidency, would have cut federal funding to “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 in military construction funds to build a border wall. Both orders were officially repealed by President Joe Biden.

Georgia is more than 800 miles from the country's southern border. But Senate Republicans insist that Democrats' current immigration policies have made that point moot.

“Because of the failures in Washington, D.C., every state is now a border state,” said State Senator Bo Hatchett (R-Cornelia), who co-sponsored the resolution.

“I want to thank (Georgia) Governor (Brian) Kemp and the 15 other governors for going to the border to look at this crisis,” said State Senator Brandon Beach (R-Alpharetta), who also co-sponsored the resolution . “It doesn’t just touch Texas and the southern border. It now affects every state in this country.”

Senator Brandon Beach

However, Democrats in the state Senate criticized rhetoric linking undocumented immigration to fentanyl smuggling, a trend they say is not supported by federal crime statistics.

“The fact is that the connection between immigration and crime and fentanyl cannot be credibly supported by data,” said State Senator Jason Esteves (D-Atlanta). “Every investigation conducted has shown that there is no connection between the fentanyl crisis and immigration, and while blaming immigrants for this crisis makes headlines, it is not based on clear data.”

A proposed amendment to the resolution authored by Senator Elena Parent that would have urged Congress to pass a bipartisan immigration agreement was defeated in the Senate shortly before the resolution passed.

Kemp is scheduled to give a speech on immigration reform on Tuesday.