Immigration enforcement panel votes to fine DeKalb County $5,000

A state panel aimed at cracking down on government officials who don’t comply with Georgia’s immigration laws voted unanimously this week to fine DeKalb County $5,000 unless it comes into compliance.

This is the first time the Immigration Enforcement Review Board has decided to punish anyone since the state created the panel in 2011.

In a letter to DeKalb on Thursday, the board accused the county of not using the Systematic Alien Verification for Entitlements Program in connection with a summer youth program. An online program, SAVE helps determine the immigration status of people so only those entitled to public benefits will get them.

The letter says the board will lift the fine if the county issues a letter within 30 days confirming it will use the SAVE program going forward.

DeKalb officials have said the summer youth program is federally funded and that the county does not give applicants vouchers for it. Rather, the county gives the vouchers to nonprofit groups involved with the summer program and those groups deliver them to applicants, DeKalb officials said.

“The county does not believe SAVE verification is required for that program, but is exploring this issue in further detail,” DeKalb spokesman Burke Brennan said in an email Friday.

The sanction arose from a complaint filed by D.A. King, president of the Dustin Inman Society, which advocates for enforcement of U.S. immigration and employment laws.