June 25, 2008

My Marietta Daily Journal column today:Cobb, cities turn blind eye to new law on illegal immigration

Posted by D.A. King at 10:49 am - Email the author   Print This Post Print This Post  

Marietta Daily Journal

Cobb, cities turn blind eye to new law on illegal immigration

Published: 06/25/2008

By D. A. King
Guest Columnist

It’s impossible to say how many illegal aliens – including potential terrorists – have been enabled, encouraged and rewarded with business licenses by Cobb County and its six cities since last July.

The tools provided for keeping exactly that from happening are not being used here, and we may never know – but even one is too many.

What we do know is that these governments are among the huge majority of local governments in Georgia that have failed to comply with state Senator Chip Rogers’ (R- Cobb) 2006 Georgia Security and Immigration Compliance Act (SB 529).

SB 529 requires that local governments – municipalities and counties – obtain a “Memorandum of Understanding” (MOU) with the federal government to use a federal data-base called the “Systematic Alien Verification for Entitlements” (SAVE) system to screen non-citizen applicants who have sworn that they are in the U.S. lawfully and are eligible for what the feds call “public benefits.”

Of the 535 municipalities and 159 counties in the state, a June 23 list provided by the U.S. Department of Homeland Security shows that a grand total of nine entities in Georgia are authorized to use the SAVE program – which is designed to verify that public benefits go to those who are eligible.

While the term “public benefits” brings to mind welfare and social benefits, according to the law, they also include all “professional licenses, or commercial licenses provided by an agency of a State or local government or by appropriated funds of a State or local government.” That includes issuing and renewing these little local revenue enhancing permits.

Alone among the Cobb governments, the county is the only one to have bothered to obey the law and enroll in SAVE – but it is not using the system to verify applicants for business licenses.

I know. As the president of an unincorporated Cobb-based corporation, the nonprofit Dustin Inman Society, last week, I (belatedly) applied for and received a “Cobb County Business License, Business Registration, Occupational Tax Certificate.”

Ours is marked “Regular License.”

SB 529 is essentially a state law saying that in Georgia, we must obey and help enforce long standing federal law. What a concept.

Under that law, what is supposed to happen when someone applies for a public benefit is that he or she must sign an affidavit swearing that they are either a U.S. citizen or a “qualified alien” lawfully present in the United States. If it is the latter, the applicant’s eligibility (using immigration status) for public benefits must be verified using the SAVE system.

When I made my application, I was not required to show any ID and was never asked to complete or sign the mandated affidavit.

On issuing business licenses, Cobb County is in clear violation of the law. As is Marietta and every other city in Cobb.

Because this longtime American studies immigration and the laws that are meant to regulate that process, I know how dry and boringly “political” all of this can sound to people who don’t spend all day monitoring the crimes of illegal immigration, illegal employment and illegally obtaining – and dispensing – public benefits.

Think about it this way: Right now, brave Border Patrol agents are risking their lives to do what they can to stop illegal immigration into our children’s nation.

Those illegal aliens who escape apprehension at our borders and make it to Cobb County can go get a business license and begin to look for a better life – courtesy of our local governments. The same governments we count on to protect us from the costly realities of illegal immigration and the same governments charged with implementing key parts of the Georgia Security and Immigration Compliance Act.

Feel safer?

If the gravity of this state of affairs still does not hit the reader, think about this: How loud would the howls be if the same governments were to refuse to enforce the laws that grant taxpayer-funded education and medical care to illegals?

SB 529 was signed into law by Gov. Sonny Perdue more than two years ago and went into effect almost exactly a year ago. Sadly, there is much more to this story of government non-compliance.

Stay tuned.

A widely recognized authority on illegal immigration, D.A. King is president of the Cobb-based Dustin Inman Society, named after a Georgia youth who lost his life to illegal immigration.

Original column and comments HERE