The bill – which lawmakers approved just hours before a 40-day legislative session ended – is likely to be challenged, as was the Arizona law, in federal court. But some say its passage is also likely to fuel efforts elsewhere, such as Alabama and Florida, to challenge federal authority over immigration control.
"This will be an important step toward increasing state [immigration] regulation," says Mark Krikorian, director of the Center for Immigration Studies, a nonpartisan Washington think tank that highlights the consequences of legal and illegal immigration.
Georgia has seen an influx of immigrants, many of them illegal, come to work in its fields and restaurants in the past two decades. The state has an estimated 480,000 illegal immigrants, more than Arizona. Overall, some 12 million people are believed to be in the United States illegally.