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Worried that the state will suffer the same economic blows that were felt in Arizona last year after it enacted the toughest immigration enforcement law in America, tourism and convention boosters in Georgia are, at this time, bracing for any eventuality.
As a similar immigration measure, House Bill 87, is about to be signed into law by Gov. Nathan Deal, a series of strategies are planned to be employed by tourism officials. They point out that there is a huge difference between the Georgia measure and the immigration law of Arizona. They are also highlighting the civil rights history of Atlanta and have emphasized how cancellations may affect tens of thousands of workers in the metro area.
The biggest concern of tourism officials is the string of cancellations that hit Arizona soon after the state’s hotly debated law was signed by Arizona Gov. Jan Brewer.
According to the Arizona Hotel & Lodging Association, the Grand Canyon State lost in total around 40 conventions in the midst of economic boycotts that were spurred by its crackdown on illegal immigration. In fact, one estimate puts the loss of Arizona at around $141 million in lost bookings.
Georgia’s HB 87, which was partly patterned after the immigration law of Arizona, is expected to be signed by Gov. Deal this week. The measure grants the police the authority to investigate the status on immigration of particular suspects. It also penalizes people who harbor or transport illegal immigrants in Georgia.
Supporters of the legislation say that the state needs to take action primarily because illegal immigrants are already burdening the taxpayer-funded resources in Georgia. Critics, on the other hand, say that the measure is unconstitutional and can potentially scare away conventioneers and tourists.