Georgia has head start when it comes to Trump’s immigration wish list

11:29 a.m. Wednesday, Oct. 11, 2017 Atlanta News
AP Photo/Manuel Balce Ceneta
Oct. 7: President Donald Trump speaks to reporters before leaving the White House. The Trump administration sent an immigration policy wish list to Congress that includes requiring the nation’s employers to use E-Verify, a workforce authorization program.

President Donald Trump set his sights on the nation’s employers this week when he outlined his wish list for any deal with Congress that would extend protections for young immigrants who could face deportation.

Among other things, Trump said he wants to require businesses to use E-Verify, a federal workforce authorization program. The program works by checking information employees provide on a document -- called an I-9 -- against records held in federal Homeland Security, State Department and Social Security Administration databases. 

This comes after a similar investigation into former HHS Sec. Tom Price, who resigned over the issue.

“Immigrants who come here illegally and enter the workforce undermine job opportunities and reduce wages for American workers,” Trump said in the letter he sent Sunday to congressional leaders. (Some economists say unauthorized immigrants actually create more higher paying jobs through their work and spending in the U.S.) 

Georgia already has a head start when it comes to requiring E-Verify. In 2011, the state Legislature passed a law requiring private employers with more than 10 workers to use the program. Also, all city, county and state government agencies in Georgia -- and their contractors and subcontractors -- must use it. Some Georgia businessmen were critical of Georgia’s statute when it was up for consideration, worrying it would cost them extra time and money to use the program. But E-Verify’s supporters point out it is free and say it is fast and easy to use.

As of June 30, 92,683 employers in Georgia were enrolled in the program, federal records show. For comparison, there are 234,032 employers in the state, according to the Georgia Department of Labor. Nationwide, there were 729,595 employers participating in the program as of June. 

The head of the Georgia Chamber of Commerce issued a statement in response to Trump’s E-Verify proposal Wednesday.

“In 2011, the Georgia General Assembly passed legislation requiring E-Verify for companies employing over 10 employees,” Georgia Chamber President and CEO Chris Clark said. “As we argued then, we encourage Congress not to put more unnecessary and burdensome unfunded mandates on the backs of Georgia’s small businesses as they work through this issue.”

The Metro Atlanta Chamber had no comment.

Trump’s E-Verify proposal is now part of the debate over the future of the Obama administration’s Deferred Action or Childhood Arrivals program. DACA provides renewable two-year deportation deferrals and work permits to so-called “Dreamers,” young immigrants were brought here before turning 16, who have attended school here and who have no felony convictions.  Last month, Trump announced he was phasing out DACA.

Immigrant rights activists are calling for federal legislation providing a pathway to citizenship for the nation’s nearly 700,000 DACA recipients without any of the Trump administration’s priorities for immigration enforcement. But that’s a nonstarter in the Republican-led Congress. 

Meanwhile, Trump’s daughter, Ivanka, called Wednesday for a long-term solution for DACA recipients. 

"This is a very complicated issue that needs a long-term, congressional fix," she told the Fortune Most Powerful Women Summit in Washington. "I personally am of the opinion, and the president has stated this, that we have to figure out a good solution that protects these innocent people, many of whom were brought to this country as children.”

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