• Civil rights groups say anti-immigrant bills hurt Georgia's chance to lure Amazon

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    ATLANTA - Some civil rights groups and Georgia lawmakers worry a push to make English the official language of Georgia could backfire and push major corporations like Amazon away. 

    Amazon has said it’s looking for a diverse workforce but that hasn’t stopped some lawmakers from sponsoring bills like “English-only” and special driver’s licenses for immigrants.

    They think big corporations are looking more to their bottom line than to measures like these. 

    “Again, black eye for the state of Georgia,” said Gwinnett County lawmaker Pedro Marin.


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    Marin doesn’t like several bills now moving through the legislature. One would make English the official language of Georgia and would prevent any other language on most state documents, including tests for driver’s licenses.

    “I always see this type of legislation coming in an election year. It’s a kind of what they call a feel-good type of bill,” Marin said.

    Marin and a group of civil rights organizations now worry the bill and others like it are so anti-immigrant that they could scare away major corporations like Amazon.

    “I don’t see any evidence this will impact any economic development deal with Amazon,” said state senator Josh McKoon.

    McKoon is sponsoring one of two attempts to get a constitutional amendment making English the official language of Georgia. He believes major corporations like Amazon are more concerned with their bottom line than resolutions like his.

    “Corporations make these decisions a long three lines,” McKoon said. “They decide based on tax and regulatory policies.  They decide based on available infrastructure and workforce, and they decide based on how fat the economic incentive check is going to be.”

    But with Georgia competing with so many other highly competitive states, Marin worries these bills could tip the scales the wrong way.

    “My take is, you know, we need to stop this in their tracks.  We need not to have them move forward,” Marin said.

    The groups are also upset over a bill that would create a different drivers' license for citizens and immigrants. They think it makes it easier for people with bad intentions to target them.

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