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Gov. Nathan Deal changes his mind on immigration reform bill

By Maria Saporta

It’s the governor’s prerogative to change his mind.

Between 8 a.m. Friday morning and early afternoon, Gov. Nathan Deal went from saying that he was undecided about signing the controversial immigration reform bill to saying he would sign it.

After speaking to the Atlanta Business Chronicle’s Pacesetter breakfast at the Cobb Galleria, Deal said he wanted to take a close look at the bill before deciding whether he was going to sign the bill that passed at the very end of the 2011 session.

“It was so jumbled at the end as to what was added and what was taken out,” Deal said. “We are going to look at it very carefully.”

But it did not take Deal very long to make up his mind. By mid-day, Deal had given at least two interviews — the Atlanta Journal-Constitution and WXIA-TV — saying that he was planning to sign the bill.

For many in the business community, Deal’s apparent change of heart was a disappointment.

There is growing concern that the immigration bill will backfire against Georgia’s hospitality sector and agricultural industry. Business leaders also are worried that it will give Georgia a black eye when it comes to trying to attract international investment and major conventions and sporting events.

In recent weeks, a host of Georgia executives and industries have expressed concern that the bill would have serious economic consequences.

Even Muhtar Kent, CEO of the Coca-Cola Co., told Deal that the immigration reform legislative could be bad for Georgia’s economic climate.

“He was concerned about the image it would have,” Deal said. “He didn’t want Georgia to be considered as a state that was unfriendly to business.”
Deal added that he believed the General Assembly also was sensitive to those concerns.

In the governor’s breakfast talk, he made a point of saying that he wants to do all he can to make Georgia a business-friendly state.

But given the anticipated fall-out of the new immigration legislation, Deal will have a harder time convincing the business community that he really understands the cost that the state is about to pay.

Maria Saporta

Maria Saporta, Editor, is a longtime Atlanta business, civic and urban affairs journalist with a deep knowledge of our city, our region and state.  Since 2008, she has written a weekly column and news stories for the Atlanta Business Chronicle. Prior to that, she spent 27 years with The Atlanta Journal-Constitution, becoming its business columnist in 1991. Maria received her Master’s degree in urban studies from Georgia State and her Bachelor’s degree in journalism from Boston University. Maria was born in Atlanta to European parents and has two young adult children.


1 Comment

  1. Seeing as though the electorate is out for blood on the issue of illegal immigration and its continuing effects on Georgia, the legislature really had no choice but to pass this bill and Governor Deal has no choice but to sign this bill into law no matter how flawed and costly to some sectors of the state’s economy it may be. A solid majority of Georgians were unwilling to take no for an answer and demanded to see the legislature act on the issue this session by passing a bill that appears to crackdown on illegal immigration and sends a message to the nation and the world, especially the federal government, that the citizens of this state are fed up with Washington’s outright refusal to secure the border with Mexico and get the unchecked illegal immigration problem and the grave security risks that come along with it under control. It’s unfortunate that the state may have to possibly take a massive hit to its economy to get the Feds attention on this very pressing issue, but it’s clear from the serious concern and outrage of the voting populace that THIS is a conversation that can no longer be ignored by the powers-that-be. Unchecked ILLEGAL immigration and almost non-existent border security is a critical issue that must be addressed now. If the passage of the illegal immigration crackdown bill in Arizona last year didn’t bring the Feds attention to this issue, passage of an equal to slightly tougher bill in Georgia, a state with three-and-a-half million more people, the world’s busiest airport and a business & corporate community and an economy that is 70% larger than that of Arizona, should certainly get their undivided attention.

    I’m not going to lie to you and try and paint a rosy picture. There are likely to be some tough days ahead for the Georgia economy, especially in the agricultural, hospitality and convention sectors as this state is likely to take some very heavy losses financially and the state’s reputation is likely to take a hit, not to mention the long and costly court battle that is certain to eventually end up in the Supreme Court. But the people of this state realize that this a national conversation that must happen now, no matter what the short-term costs are. Sorry, but that’s just the way the cookie crumbles, so we have no choice but to face and deal with the issue of massive unchecked illegal immigration head-on. We just can no longer tolerate illegals running across a largely unguarded and almost completely unsecure international border and doing harm to American citizens.Report


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