During the 2011 legislative session, the Georgia General Assembly passed the Illegal Immigration Reform and Enforcement Act (House Bill 87). Among other initiatives, this legislation placed several new requirements on local governments and businesses. Individuals and business owners should be aware of two of these new requirements that took effect on January 1, 2012.
“People come to the county to conduct a wide range of personal and work-related business,” said Michael Brewer, Interim County Administrator. “We want to make sure that they understand that they may have to complete some additional paperwork or provide additional documentation to receive public benefits in order for the county to comply with the federal and state immigration laws.”
The first requirement calls for any person seeking a public benefit through the county to present a secure and verifiable document. Public benefits include such things as an occupation tax certificate (business license), an alcohol license and contracts. It further requires any person required to present identification to the county for any official purpose to present a secure and verifiable document. This means that anyone who applies for a public benefit through a county must now not only submit a Systematic Alien Verification for Entitlements (SAVE) affidavit but they must also present a secure and verifiable document. Although counties may accept affidavits in person, electronically or by mail, secure and verifiable documents can only be submitted in person or electronically and cannot be accepted by mail.
For more information on what is considered a public benefit and a list of approved secure and verifiable documents, go to the Georgia Attorney General’s website at http://www.law.ga.gov. Click on “Key Issues, and then “Immigration Reports.”
The second requirement calls for private employers with 500 or more employees seeking an occupation tax certificate (business license) or any other document required to operate a business within the county to register for and use the E-Verify program and to sign an E-Verify affidavit. E-Verify is a federal program that checks the employment eligibility of all new hires.
The private employer requirement will be phased in through July 1, 2013. Private employers with 100 or more employees must be registered beginning on July 1, 2012 and employers with more than 10 employees must be registered beginning on July 1, 2013. Private employers that are not subject to this requirement must sign an exemption affidavit. The affidavits for business owners are also available on the Georgia Attorney General’s website.
The Association County Commissioners of Georgia (ACCG) has worked to help counties understand the new requirements for compliance and reporting established through the Illegal Immigration Reform and Enforcement Act through regional training programs for county staff. For additional information on what counties must do to comply with this new law, go to http://www.accg.org and click on “Immigration.”
“We’ve had more questions from counties on the implementation of the new illegal immigration laws than any other legislative issue in recent years,” said ACCG Associate Legislative Director Todd Edwards. “Our job is to make sure that we provide them with the best information that we have available and to help them understand what they need to do to comply.”