Agencies targeted for not complying with Georgia’s immigration laws

An anti-illegal immigration activist is asking Attorney General Sam Olens to crack down on local and state government agencies for not complying with Georgia’s immigration laws.

In an email to Olens Monday, D.A. King referred to how hundreds of local government agencies have not filed annual reports certifying they and their public works contractors are using E-Verify. That federal program helps employers confirm their newly hired employees are eligible to work in the United States.

This month, the state Audits and Accounts Department sent a list of 570 government agencies to the Department of Community Affairs, saying they have not filed annual E-Verify reports.

King also accused the Department of Community Affairs of not collecting information from local governments confirming whether they are authorized to use the Systematic Alien Verification for Entitlements program for certain public benefits. That online program helps determine the immigration status of people so only those entitled to those benefits receive them.

At a hearing on King’s complaint Thursday, Community Affairs Commissioner Mike Beatty said his agency is complying with the state’s immigration laws. Beatty said his department was asking local government officials for more information than the laws require. The state agency has been simplifying its reporting system, Beatty said.

“If we messed it up, we messed it up trying to do what we thought was right,” Beatty said. “I think we really might have overcomplicated it.”

In his email to Olens, King highlights how government officials may be fined up to $10,000 for not complying with Georgia’s immigration laws. A spokeswoman for Olens said the Attorney General’s office was still reviewing King’s request for “prosecution/civil action” Monday.

King is president of the Georgia-based Dustin Inman Society, which advocates enforcement of U.S. immigration and employment laws. He originally filed his complaints with the Immigration Enforcement Review Board. At its meeting Thursday, board members tabled his complaints, saying they didn’t have the resources to investigate hundreds of government agencies but would seek an update from state officials at a meeting later this year.

State officials have cautioned some of the government agencies mentioned in King’s complaint might have no employees and would therefore be exempt from the E-Verify reporting requirement. Many cities, for example, have one or no employees and operate with the help of volunteers and contractors. State officials said they would remind government agencies about the reporting requirements and seek to determine which are exempt.

“I don’t think we are at a point right now – because it lists hundreds of agencies – to launch that many cases, so I would prefer to leave those in a holding pattern,” said Ben Vinson, the board’s chairman. “We are going to monitor the law and the government entities involved.”

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