Storing insight from and on Georgia Republican state Representative Tom Dickson of Dalton Ga. For when I take time…
Letter: Defending American citizens
Posted: 05/05/2014 11:37 PM
Apparently, either he doesn’t understand Georgia’s illegal immigration laws or state Rep. Tom Dickson wants to make life in Georgia easier for illegal aliens. And heaven only knows how hard it is in Georgia to ride the gravy train of services to the undocumented.
Politicians, lawyers and businessmen have bent over backwards to welcome illegal aliens into our state, while legislators have knelt or bowed to the powers of influence from whence campaign dollars and high-on-the hog living are derived.
Rep. Dickson saw fit to offer House Bill 1051, which would have given illegal aliens the same rights as U.S. citizens when reapplying for public services and benefits. Illegal aliens who have benefited from Barack Obama’s 2012 illegal deferred action on deportation (called DACA) are now being issued driver’s licenses and state ID cards in Georgia, along with various other public benefits. HB 1051 needlessly and suspiciously added an optional method of filing for renewal of benefits.
Because of massive public pressure, Dickson’s HB 1051 was killed by a vote of 34-19 in the state Senate late at night on day 39 of the 2014 General Assembly. It was described by some experts on the law as either A) an uneducated solution in search of a problem, or B) a veiled attempt to relax the code for illegals and to grant the illegal aliens who are now allowed to obtain a Georgia limited term driver’s license the ability to use just the numbers from those driver’s licenses to renew public benefits.
Under the current law, aliens must produce proper documentation each time they reapply for state benefits. Rep. Dickson’s plan was to make the law for American citizens apply to illegal aliens. In existing law (Official Code of Georgia Annotated 50-36-1), American citizens are already excluded from proving that status and their eligibility for benefits a second time, upon renewal.
Georgia has more illegal aliens than Arizona and ranks sixth in the nation in that illegal population. In 2011, Gov. Nathan Deal used an estimate of $2.4 billion annually as the cost of illegal immigration to Georgia taxpayers. Do we really need our state politicians to add benefits and privileges for illegal aliens? Beyond what the Washington elites are doing?
Tom Dickson responds
In a Letter to the Editor, a constituent of mine — Mr. Lawrence Headrick – expressed his concern regarding HB 1051, a bill I introduced during the 2014 legislative session that passed the House but failed in the Senate. In his piece, Mr. Headrick argued that my bill would have made it easier for illegal aliens to take advantage of taxpayer-funded public benefit programs.
Let me begin by emphasizing that HB 1051 was crafted not to enable the fraudulent use of Georgia’s public welfare system but rather to ensure that legal residents of our state could more simply obtain and renew their professional licenses.
Under Georgia Code, a “public benefit” is defined to include not only welfare programs such as food stamps and housing assistance but also occupational and professional licenses. Under current law, Georgians seeking to apply for an initial professional license or renew their current license must — like those seeking public benefits — prove their legal Georgia residency. As such, they are required to furnish the exact same documents they are required to furnish when applying for a secure driver’s license. After identifying this possible duplication, I felt Georgians possessing a secured driver’s license should have the option to present their license to a state agency as proof of legal residency when seeking to apply for or renew their professional license.
HB 1051 would have allowed individuals to present their secure driver’s license to a participating state agency who would then be required to verify such information with the Georgia Department of Driver Services prior to granting or renewing a license.
I appreciate Mr. Headrick’s concern regarding the fraudulent use of public benefit programs by illegal aliens. I share his concern for such abuse and offer this clarification regarding the impacts of HB 1051: An illegal alien would not be able to obtain a secure driver’s license due to their illegal status and lack of certified documentation. Therefore, HB 1051 would do nothing to amplify the potential for welfare abuse by illegal aliens.
During my tenure in the Georgia House of Representatives, I have been a staunch opponent of awarding taxpayer-funded benefits to those who come to our country illegally. That being said, I believe it is the responsibility of those of us in public office to simplify and streamline state government to better serve the legal residents of our great state. That was my goal with HB 1051, and it will continue to be my goal as long as I serve the residents of Georgia’s Sixth District.
Letter: Bill would have helped illegal aliens
Posted: 05/27/2014 11:06 PM
More Opinion >>
In reference to state Rep. Tom Dickson’s response to a letter on the May 6 editorial page about House Bill 1051, Dickson wrote: “An illegal alien would not be able to obtain a secure driver’s license due to their illegal status and lack of certified documentation.”
This is a factually untrue statement. The federal Department of Homeland Security (DHS) specifically states that DACA (Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals) does not give an individual legal status, only a two-year deferment of the deportation process. They are still illegal aliens. Georgia does give driver’s licenses to illegal aliens under DACA. In 2012, they issued less than 100 prior to the DHS ruling in September 2012, since then the Department of Public Safety has issued more than 11,000 secure driver’s licenses to illegal aliens.
Speaking from the Senate floor about HB 1051, Sen. Josh McKoon, R-Columbus, stated, “This does open a ‘Pandora’s Box’ with respect to those who are in the state of Georgia on a deferred status.” McKoon voted against HB 1051, as did Sen. Frank Ginn, R-Danielsville, the Senate sponsor of HB 1051. The final vote was 19 “yes” to 34 “no.” Considering this vote was in a Republican-controlled Senate on a Republican representative’s bill, calling it a “stinging rebuke” of Rep. Dickson’s effort might be an understatement.
The content of HB 1051 and the information used herein are available on the Internet. Remember, our legislators depend on our laziness and lack of interest to pass much of their agenda. Perhaps we should not take every statement politicians make at face value and, as Ronald Reagan said, “Trust, but verify.”
Rep. Dickson responds
In his letter, Ed Painter makes the assertion that my bill, HB 1051, was a veiled attempt to expand the abuse of taxpayer-funded benefits by illegal aliens. In his argument, Mr. Painter ties my legislation to the Obama administration’s DACA policy, which, among other things, forced states like Georgia to issue temporary secure driver’s licenses to illegal aliens with deferred status.
HB 1051 had one purpose: to simplify and streamline state government in order to better serve the people of Georgia. HB 1051 sought to allow licensed professional Georgians to present their secure driver’s licenses as proof of their legal residency and enable state agencies to verify this information with the Department of Driver Services. In introducing this legislation, I wanted to ensure that teachers, nurses, contractors and other professionals could more easily apply for and renew their professional licenses, so that they could focus on their careers and their families rather than navigating bureaucratic red tape.
While I mean no disrespect, Mr. Painter’s assertion could not be further from the truth.
DACA grants deferred immigration status to those individuals under the age of 31 who came to the U.S. prior to their 16th birthday, have lived in the U.S. for at least five years, are in school or have graduated, or have been honorably discharged from the U.S. military. DACA does not apply to violent criminals or those who pose a threat to public safety.
Should deferred action status be granted, an illegal alien does not automatically qualify for a temporary secure driver’s license. Under Georgia law, an individual must present proof of residency, proof of lawful presence and a Social Security card to receive a temporary license. While an illegal alien with DACA status may be able to satisfy the first two requirements, the only way they could obtain a Social Security card is by receiving an Employment Authorization Document (EAD). Should an illegal alien with deferred status receive an EAD, they then can apply for a Social Security number to receive a temporary license. To clarify, illegal aliens with deferred status are eligible only for a temporary driver’s license.
Prior to receiving a temporary driver’s license, an illegal alien with deferred status must have their status verified via the Systematic Alien Verification for Entitlements (SAVE) system.
The only question remaining is how all of this affects an illegal alien’s ability to receive a public benefit. DACA status alone does not confer lawful presence in the U.S., and, therefore, does not entitle illegal aliens to public benefits. However, should an illegal alien receive an EAD — which confers lawful presence — they may apply to receive a public benefit. HB 1051 did nothing to further enable the use of public benefits by illegal aliens. The purpose of my bill was confined to improving the efficiency of professional license applications and renewals.
DACA is, perhaps, the clearest example of President Obama’s gross expansion and misuse of his executive authority to date. DACA exploits loopholes in federal law to benefit those who have broken the law. During my tenure in the Georgia House of Representatives, I have always sought to support legislation that promotes the enforcement of our nation’s immigration laws, and I will continue to do so.