Georgia’s Republican Primaries Split over Immigration

A poll worker wearing a protective mask is seen at the Dunwoody Library on Monday, May 18, 2020, in Dunwoody, Georgia. Georgians were greeted with a few new procedures as they participated in the first day of in-person early voting for the state's June 9 primaries with the coronavirus pandemic …
AP Photo/Ron Harris

Immigration politics are shaping primary races for two state Senate seats in Georgia, allowing local voters to impose their priorities on their politicians until the polls close on June 9.

In State Senate District 54, GOP voters can choose between newcomer Dan McEntire or incumbent Sen. Chuck Payne, who voted with Democrats to block a law that would make it easier for people to recognize the illegal migrants who get state-approved drivers’ licenses.

In State Senate District 31, west of Atlanta, voters can pick between a local former mayor, Boyd Austin, and Jason Anavitarte, a “founding friend” of the Latino pressure group, GALEO, and a favorite of the Georgia Hispanic Chamber of Commerce.

AnavitArte dismissed his member of the GALEO group, which has long opposed curbs on migration into Georgia. “As a Latino officeholder, I was once a member, but disagreed with them on many of the policy positions like outlined above and left that organization because of that,” he told Breitbart News.

But AnavitArte’s membership in GALEO is a problem, in part because it has opposed immigration updates pushed by reformers, including Sen. David Perdue. In 2016, Perdue blocked President Barack Obama’s appointment of another GALEO member, Dax Lopez, to a lifetime judgeship.

In May, Anavitarte did not mention illegal migration on his website. After responding to questions in late May from Breitbart News, however, he added a section, saying, “I believe in curbing illegal immigration through any and all means necessary.”

Anaviterte has endorsed several federal anti-migration proposals but has declined to identify any recent or new state-level measure that would curb migration into Georgia. He told Breitbart News:

I do not support open borders. I oppose amnesty and illegal immigration. I even believe there are serious loopholes in legal immigration that can be improved to strengthen the American workforce. Most of these are federal issues and we have limited options to remedy on a state level.

He told Breitbart News that he “would support that type of legislation if elected,” referring to the 2009 HB2 law.

That law was pushed by D.A. King, the founder of the Dustin Inman Society, which champions the enforcement of existing migration laws that help Americans to earn decent wages. “It is easy enough to say you support a bill after it has passed: The question is, will you support enforcement of the bills?” responded King responded to AnavitArte’s statement. “These laws are not being enforced,” he added.

“As a state legislator, we are very limited in the things we can do” about immigration, said rival Boyd Austin, a former mayor who is running for the open 31st district seat. So, he said, “one of the primary areas we should focus our attention on is sanctuary cities.” He explained:

“We’ve had several, large and small [sanctuary cities], in Georgia … [The legislature should] get rid of the magnets [for illegal aliens] and the ability for them to hide in plain sight, start taking away their state funding, and hit them in the pocketbook where it hurts.”

“I am not the establishment’s candidate,” Austin said. “The Georgia chamber [of commerce] has endorsed my opponent. He has powerful people who want to continue his [migration] process, with a lot of money coming from out of state,” said Austin, who is a former president of the Georgia Municipal Association.

According to a chamber release, Anavitarte welcomed the Georgia Chamber’s endorsement, saying:

I am so grateful to the Georgia Chamber, and its thousands of members and Georgians they employ, for their endorsement in this race. With their support, we can work hard every day for the people of West Georgia to ensure they have the quality jobs they deserve, that we continue to make Georgia #1 for doing business, and allow small businesses to thrive and grow in our communities.

The chamber’s endorsement is a warning signal, said Boyd, because its members are eager to help big companies gain control in towns around the state. “Those are the big businesses, the corporate giants. They benefit greatly from suppressed wages – they want to run things in the [state] Capitol and pull the strings. They do not represent the local chambers, and they are not in the communities.”

This accelerating centralization is pulling wealth from small towns and concentrating it in the wealthy areas in Georgia, Austin said. “When towns do have local banks, car dealerships, and local drug stores, they are able to make improvements. But the towns that [don’t have their own companies] have died or are dying … Everything is being centralized.”

Similarly, major hospital chains are threatening the future of the local hospitals that compete for the attention and care of people in small towns, he said.

Austin’s rival, Anavitarte, has worked as a lobbyist for a healthcare company, according to a report in the Atlanta Journal-Constitution (AJC).

In 2016, Anavitarte supported Sen. Marco Rubio in the GOP’s primary race, according to the AJC. Rubio lost the 2016 race, in large part, because he promoted the “Gang of Eight” amnesty in 2014. The AJC reported:

Jason Anavitarte sees so much of himself in [Sen.] Marco Rubio. They’re both Hispanic. They both courted public office at a young age. They both believe in a conservative America.

The two Republicans shared all that when Anavitarte met Rubio a year ago in Atlanta. They only talked for 15 minutes, but Anavitarte experienced that magic moment common to so many campaign volunteers, when belief in a candidate rises to something approaching a shared sense of destiny.

“Our stories were so similar,” Anavitarte said. “I wanted to get this guy elected president.”

In the Dalton district, McEntire is challenging Sen. Payne, who voted against a measure that would make it easier for people to recognize the migrants who get state-approved drivers’ licenses.

McEntire supports the bill. “That would be a big step, and it will help in not allowing free state giveaways,” McEntire told Breitbart News. “My stance is on immigration is if an immigrant is here legally, I don’t have a problem. If they are here illegally, I am against it because of all the free giveaway,” said McEntire, a former mayor and manager in the carpet industry.

In contrast, according to a 2019 report at GeorgiaRecorder.com:

Payne contends immigrants, even those who remain undocumented, are “part of the fabric now.”

“They’re part of the nation,” he said Tuesday. “They’re part of the melting pot.”

Payne’s support for illegal — and legal migration — has won him some friends among Silicon Valley’s wealthy investors at FWD.us:

Payne did not return calls to Breitbart News.

“Payne voted with the Democrats on drivers’ license reform for the illegal aliens who are already driving,” said King. He is putting “illegal aliens on the same level as Americans and legal immigrants, for employment and housing [opportunities] and all the other rights that Americans have in Georgia.”

Numerous polls show that Trump’s “Hire American” policy is very popular.

But the tech investors are now lobbying President Donald Trump to preserve a program that rewards Fortune 500 companies that transfer jobs and wealth from heartland regions to Democrat-dominated wealthy states. The program was created and expanded by presidents George W. Bush and Barack Obama. 

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