An open letter to Georgia’s Immigration Enforcement Review Board
Special to The Telegraph June 22, 2017
“And Deal spokesman Brian Robinson said Deal intended his appointees to the board to take a hard line on immigration.”
“Gov. Deal signed this piece of legislation (HB 87) into law not so that it could be neutered and used as window dressing,” Robinson said.
“This immigration law is meant to have teeth. We want it to be enforced.” — 2011
Dear members of the Immigration Enforcement Review Board:
After no little trouble on my part, nearly a year ago, I filed a valid complaint against the city of Atlanta because it refused to protect public benefits according to state law which received much national news coverage when it was created in 2006 and international media attention the last time it was modified (2011).
OCGA 50-36-1 clearly requires all agencies that administer public benefits — including business licenses/occupational tax certificates — to follow simple and standardized procedures to help insure that applicants are eligible and are not illegal aliens. The city of Atlanta acknowledged their Business License Office was not following the state law, but defiantly defended themselves by saying they were in compliance with their own city ordinance on the process.
The IERB made a unanimous decision that my complaint is accurate and that city of Atlanta was in violation and sent me this letter to that effect. The IERB “requested” that Atlanta take remedial action to correct the estimated 6,000 violations that occurred over the course of five years.
While I awaited a meaningful sanction from the board on which you serve, apparently a procedural error was discovered which caused the entire hearing process on my complaint to be repeated from the beginning.
The original finding of violation had zero effect on the defense from the city of Atlanta in the second version of your proceedings. Their lawyer brought in the same witness to make the same “Ground Hog Day” claim: “We are in compliance with city law…and since state law doesn’t mention non-profit businesses, we think the law is ambiguous and difficult to obey or understand…”
I have received a second letter from the IERB with the same finding of violation and the same “request” that Atlanta obey the law. We should all be so lucky in our own business and daily responsibilities under the law.
Window dressing indeed.
I write today to make it clear that it is my assumption that the current delay in further IERB action and a meaningful punishment is intended to allow the city of Atlanta time to now begin compliance and escape any sanctions by simply stating they have stopped their violations. State law allows the IERB to impose punishments that will deter other agencies from future violations.
Having had similar experience with the IERB since its inception, I offer the request that if there is no intention of real use of authority in investigation of further violations or any real sanctions for clear violations of the law over which you have authority, the board members admit there is no reason for it to exist and to explain that premise to the General Assembly and the people of Georgia.
The pervasive official attitude across the state is that 2011’s HB 87 and all laws aimed at the crime of illegal immigration can easily be treated as optional in Georgia. The IERB and so far, the Attorney General’s office have done nothing to change that perception. I am aware that state law allows the AG’s office to prosecute violations of the three laws over which the IERB has preview totally separately and in addition to whatever action the board takes — or does not take.
As you know, I have more than 10 additional complaints pending with the board. I have little confidence in fair resolution. I am now beginning the process of seeking assistance for a remedy in the court system, where adjudication of violations of state law have a better chance of seeing real, wholehearted attention and justice. I am not going to ignore the board’s inaction despite the fact that the governor, the Legislature and Atlanta’s media does exactly that.
While I am aware some board members sincerely strive for an equal application of the law, I hope that you will all make recommendations to the General Assembly to disband the IERB and allow a workable, enthusiastic justice system that actually uses investigative authority to take over.
I also note here that I have a great deal of trouble recalling more than one meeting or hearing since the board’s creation in 2011 that saw attendance by the entire board membership.
Including in the “watch-dog media,” to my experienced knowledge, I am the only person in Georgia who pays attention to compliance on the illegal immigration legislation passed by the General Assembly and signed into law by Gov. Deal or investigates obvious violations.