Lawmakers crack down on illegals -, Albany News, Weather, Sports

Lawmakers crack down on illegals

March 27, 2006

Tifton--State house and senate leaders today agreed on a controversial bill to crack down on illegal immigrants in Georgia. It would limit state benefits for illegal aliens and punish people who hire them.

The bill would set some pretty harsh limitations on many state benefits, such as medical care and unemployment checks. The bill would also require that adults first show proof that they're in the country legally. But not everyone we talked to likes the idea.

It's a topic of conversation as hot as the salsa at Los Compadres Restaurant in Tifton: Georgia lawmakers crackdown on illegal immigrants.

"I'm a resident, but when I came here I came here illegally," says waiter, Eduardo Olalde. He's now living the American dream, working, and attending school.

Olalde believes illegals should maintain their benefits. "There's very little benefits for illegals anyway, and they just want to take away what little they might be giving us," he says.

Olalde says illegal immigrants help keep Georgia's agricultural economy going. "Most of the illegals here, they have a job that a typical American would not have, with less benefits that Americans would ask for," he says.

"It's going to be hard, it's going to be horrible, I think," says waiter, Noe Rodriguez. He worries the bill will end up hurting many families in Mexico because migrant workers send money back home.

"If they pass this law, it's going to be a big impact on Mexico too, not just the United States," he says.

The proposed bill would not only crack down on illegal immigrants, but also on employers who higher them, something Nancy Garcia doesn't like.

"The jobs are still there and somebody has to work them. I think it's ridiculous for a company to be fined," she says.

As lawmakers continue to debate the issue, many Hispanics in south Georgia his hope it doesn't come at the country's expense.

"Think about all the people, how it's going to be here in the United States without those people that make it a more prosperous country," she says.

There are approximately eleven million illegal immigrants in this country. And becoming a citizen isn't easy. You first have to obtain a visa, and then live in the country at least five years before you can apply for citizenship.