Many Local Governments Are Ignoring State's Immigration Law

By D.A. King, Insidr Advantage Georgia ( a subscription Website), June 16, 2008

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One must wonder how many illegal aliens have been hired by the governments that have yet to comply with the state law that says we must obey the federal law.

“There ought’a be a law”.

Most of us have muttered that all-too familiar phrase a few times in our lives.

On the topic of illegal immigration, illegal employment and illegal access to public benefits, in twenty-first century Georgia, we need to add “and it should be enforced”.

On those issues, there is a Georgia law.

In April, 2006 state Senator Chip Rogers (R- Woodstock) was successful in getting his desperately needed Georgia Security and Immigration Compliance Act (SB 529) signed into law. Those involved in lobbying for the badly needed regulation were acutely aware of the cynicism of many citizens who told remarked that “even if it passes, it won’t be enforced”.

Few involved in fighting for the bill could have guessed at the time that not only would they be partially correct, but that it would be many of the elected officials in Georgia’s local governments who would be among the violators – and that the media would ignore the issue.

Essentially, Rogers’ law, which went into effect July 1, 2007, is an effort to require compliance with long standing federal immigration and employment law here in Georgia by using available federal tools.

Section 2 of SB 529 stipulates that all public employers – the state of Georgia itself, municipalities and county governments and in stages, their contractors - must use the no-cost federal employment verification database now called E-Verify to validate the work eligibility of all newly hired employees.

Voters (who will decide in November who will operate their local governments) should be very interested to learn that of the 500-plus cities and towns and 159 counties in our state, according to an April 23rd Department of Homeland Security list of E-Verify users in Georgia, many counties have not yet obtained authority from the feds to use E-Verify.

At less than 50%, the number of municipalities on the list E-Verify is even more dismal.

One must wonder how many illegal aliens have been hired by the governments that have yet to comply with the state law that says we must obey the federal law.

In an effort to protect the limited amount of taxpayer funds on hand for providing public benefits, Senator Rogers designed section 9 of the law to require verification of eligibility of all applicants for those benefits. Again, by using a federal tool. The Systematic Alien Verification for Entitlements (SAVE) program reports on the immigration status of applicants’ names submitted for verification.

The goal here was to be sure that we are not dispensing public dollars to people with no legal right to be in the U.S. while legal residents and Americans are on waiting lists.

It is a masterful plan – but like all laws, meaningless unless enthusiastically enforced.

According to DHS, as of the end of April – nearly a year after Rogers’ law went into effect - a total of 9 (nine!) Georgia entities have either applied for or are authorized to use the very efficient SAVE system.

Simply put, while U.S. Border Patrol agents risk their lives to secure American borders, counties and municipalities in Georgia are encouraging and rewarding the illegal border crossers who escape apprehension by granting them business licenses while ignoring federal law, state law and the tool designed to prevent exactly that scenario.

Perhaps to many in the media all of this sounds a bit “wonkish” and represents “just another illegal immigration story”.

We can only imagine the front page headlines and extended news reports if the same local governments were to ignore the 1982 U.S. Supreme Court decision that requires public funding of the education of illegal alien children or were to defy the 1986 federal law that says American taxpayers must foot the bill for hospitals to provide care to anyone needing emergency treatment regardless of ability to pay, citizenship… or immigration status.

The old adage is true: All politics is local. Local politicians who ignore the law will have some explaining to do if their constituents get even a basic education on this one.

Isn’t that the media’s job?


D.A. King is president of the Cobb-based Dustin Inman Society which is opposed to illegal immigration and illegal employment. He lobbied in favor of the Georgia Security and Immigration Compliance Act. The Dustin Inman Society uses the E-Verify system.

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