That a Southern agricultural state may line up shoulder to shoulder with a Western border state with a vastly different economic and cultural history shows how deeply the debate over what to do with America's 13 million undocumented residents has cut into capitol dome politics.
The measure also promises to test how a bevy of new state immigration proposals will play in non-border states where Republicans are eager to challenge Washington on immigration enforcement and other perceived excesses and failures of federal power.
"What you're seeing in Georgia is what you're seeing across the country, where the demographics of immigration have changed substantially in the past 20 years," says Kevin Johnson, an immigration law expert at the University of California, at Davis. At the same time, state immigration laws "are a very difficult political issue to peg," he says, because there's dissension in both political parties over how to deal with the problem.
As of March, lawmakers in 30 US states had introduced 52 immigration-related bills, many including language similar to the Arizona law. Fourteen of those measures have failed and 36 are still pending, reports the National Conference of State Legislatures.