HB 452 by Rep. Rep Jesse Petrea, R-Savannah, would require the Georgia Bureau of Investigation to share with Georgia sheriffs and the public information it has been receiving from the federal Immigration Customs and Enforcement (ICE) for at least 18 months on the release of criminal aliens. Supporters say the good news is that it passed out of the state Senate Public Safety Committee. But they worry that it passed with needless tinkering with the already well-written language and some very concerning incidents.
As Mark Krikorian reported in National Review on Tuesday in a piece featuring Petrea’s bill, “ICE shares information nationwide, through a system called Enforcement Integrated Database (EID) and Law Enforcement Notification System (LENS), when it releases criminal aliens who have been convicted of “violent or serious crimes” like “certain felonies and misdemeanors – such as homicide, rape, sexual assault, aggravated assault, robbery, and kidnapping.”
Georgia activist D.A. King, who has been working on this bill for almost two years, says he is “appalled at Public Safety Committee Chairman Tyler Harper’s uninformed changes, which insert additional, subjective language qualifying which criminal aliens will be subject to the legislation.”
“Senator Harper proved that he knows zero about the EID/LENS program,” says King, who testified at Tuesday’s hearing. “On the criminal aliens who will be covered by the bill, Harper has inserted ‘and have committed violent or serious crimes’ into what we hope will become law. This was already the stated policy of the feds. Is Harper afraid that the feds will expand the reporting system to share information on criminal aliens to ‘unserious’ violent crimes?”
He concludes: “The amateurish, needless language added to HB 452 by Harper, who is not a lawyer and knows little about immigration law and less about the federal EID/LENS program on which the one-page bill is based, creates an unnecessary future discussion over what constitutes a ‘serious’ crime by a criminal alien who is set free on the our streets instead of being deported.”
Proponents wonder if Harper was trying to slow the bill down by sending it back to the House for his amendment to be approved before midnight on March 30, or if he felt the need to put his own brand on an already well-written polished bill.
King and other attendees at yesterday’s hearing also tell InsiderAdvantage that Chairman Harper lost control when opponents demanded to speak against the bill after Harper had supposedly ended the public comment period. “He let three people jump up from the back of the room and begin speaking while a motion to pass the bill was being heard,” King tells us. In an email blast, King wrote that “the anti-borders lobby was there in full force and was allowed to interrupt the hearing. One anti-American opponent of the bill told the room that sharing the info on criminal aliens released onto our streets was ‘bad for immigrants and bad for small business.’ Another made it clear that sharing the criminal alien information showed a lack of ‘compassion. Yet another, David Schaefer, from the Latin American Association told the committee that letting your county sheriff know when murderous, criminal aliens were set free into your community would make you “less safe.”
InsiderAdvantage has seen a video of the entire hearing that backs up these statements.
If Harper’s changes to HB 452 stand, it would need to back to the House after a favorable Senate floor vote.
But if the bill gets to the floor, the Secretary of the Senate’s office confirms that the Senate can reject Harper’s amendment and vote on the clean, clear version sent over from the House– thereby eliminating the need to send it back over. The big question from proponents: Are enough senators aware of this fact in time to ignore Harper’s amendment.