Georgia Gov. Nathan Deal signed Georgia's immigration enforcement bill earlier today that requires businesses in the state with more than 10 employees to use E-Verify. The bill also cracks down on individuals that transport or harbor illegal aliens and allows police to check the immigration status of certain suspects and arrest them if they are found to be in the country illegally.
The immigration enforcement bill, HB87, aims at reducing one of the nation's largest illegal alien populations. The Pew Hispanic Center estimates that Georgia's illegal alien population is 425,000.
Beginning on July 1, HB87 will require:
- Local and state police will be empowered to arrest illegal immigrants and take them to state and federal jails.
- People who use fake identification to get a job in Georgia could face up to 15 years in prison and up to $250,000 in fines.
- People who -- while committing another crime -- knowingly transport or harbor illegal immigrants or encourage them to come to Georgia could face penalties. First-time offenders would face imprisonment for up to 12 months and up to $1,000 in fines.
- A seven-member Immigration Enforcement Review Board would be established to investigate complaints about local and state government officials not enforcing state immigration-related laws.
- Government officials who violate state laws requiring cities, counties and state government agencies to use E-Verify could face fines of up to $10,000 and removal from office.
- The state Agriculture Department will be directed to study the possibility of creating Georgia's own guest-worker program. Some Georgia employers have complained the federal government's guest-worker program is too burdensome and expensive.
Beginning on January 1 of next year, HB87 will require:
- State and local government agencies must start requiring people applying for public benefits -- such as food stamps, housing assistance and business licenses -- to provide at least one “secure and verifiable” document, which could be a state or federally issued form of identification. Consular matriculation cards will not be accepted. The state attorney general’s office is required to post a list of acceptable documents on its website by Aug. 1.
The E-Verify requirements will be phased in. Businesses with 500 or more employees must start complying with this provision on Jan. 1. Businesses with 100 or more employees but fewer than 500 must start complying with this provision on July 1, 2012. This requirement applies to businesses with between 11 and 99 employees starting July 1, 2013.
For more information, see the Atlanta Journal Constitution.
Updated: Fri, May 13th 2011 @ 3:05pm EDT