Subject: SB 320
Date: Fri, February 19, 2016 4:27 pm
Good afternoon –
I don’t often speak on pending legislation, but as a thirty-seven year law enforcement veteran who has served as Gwinnett County Sheriff for nineteen years, I urge you to carefully consider the potential dangers of SB 320. As Gwinnett County is a top destination for immigrants, both legal and illegal, this legislation is of great importance to our county.
I am concerned that SB 320 appears to charge law enforcement officers with the duty of verifying the validity and authenticity of foreign driver’s licenses on Georgia’s roadways and to interpret immigration documents and foreign passports. Additionally, the language of SB 320 seems to assume that an officer on the street would be able to discern what reflects “lawful entry” into the United States by an alien through inspection of a foreign passport or visa.
As one of the best equipped law enforcement agencies in Georgia, please understand that my deputies don’t have the equipment or training to accomplish these duties. We cannot verify a foreign driver’s license on the street. Budget constraints currently do not allow for the new equipment or training these additional duties would require.
I am also uncomfortable with the concept that any foreign consul or Georgia Commissioner of Economic Development would be given authority to appoint an official to be the arbiter of the validity of a foreign driver’s license, as SB 320 seems to read.
It is my professional and personal opinion that SB 320 poses needless danger to the safety and security of our state and to the citizens my office is charged with protecting. I see no gain to public safety with the passage of this bill. Contrarily, I believe it will weaken enforcement of driver’s license laws with regard to foreign nationals.
Thank you for your careful consideration of this matter.
(Butch Conway – Sheriff, Gwinnett County, Georgia)