ATLANTA (CBS46) — State Sen. Butch Miller says he wants Georgia law enforcement to be able to check to verify if someone is a legal citizen or not.
“We don’t know who’s coming and who’s going. I think that citizenship matters,” Miller said.
The bill introduced this week states that each peace officer in the state who lawfully arrests or detains an individual with or without a warrant or as the result of a traffic stop shall check such individual’s citizenship status.
“I’m not saying that people have to carry their birth certificate or their passport with them, but they need to have state identification with them, and identification for an officer is key,” Miller said.
He said he wants police, not to penalize people they pull over because of citizenship but to collect data on how many non-citizens are in Georgia.
Opponents of the bill argue that this is a gateway to racial and ethnic discrimination in police stops.
“Sen. Butch Miller is adding another burden on police officers putting them in a position that they should not be in without any consideration on how you would actually dictate who is a citizen and who is not,” said Christopher Bruce, the political director of ACLU of Georgia. “There is a racial profiling part of the bill and during an election year, we need to stay away with these petty type of politics,” Bruce added.
Bruce also explained that the bill does not outline any provision for data collection.
Overall, Miller says it is not about race at all.
“I’ve made no distinction with race or ethnicity or how someone looks that’s got nothing to do with it,” Miller told CBS46.
The bill will be assigned to a committee in the next few days.