Georgia Senate Bill 160, a new immigration law, starts today, which requires use of E-Verify to determine citizenship status of an immigrant for employment.
E-Verify is a free immigration status program that is now required by law for the contractors of state, county and city government to use.
The bill makes obtaining benefits such as state driver’s licenses, tax credits, public and assisted housing and retirement benefits harder to get for those who illegally immigrated to the United States or don’t have proper paperwork.
“What Senate Bill 160 does is reduce many of these repetitive, duplicative and costly processes into a more streamline process, with adding a few more responsibilities at the same time,” Todd Edwards, Association of County Commissioners of associate legislative director told the Savanna Morning News.
There are 16 other states required to use E-Verify after the U.S. Supreme Court upheld Arizona’s right to mandate the use of E-Verify in May 2011. And Georgia is one of six states including Alabama, Arizona, North Carolina, Mississippi and South Carolina said to have the most comprehensive laws requiring businesses to use E-Verify.
The penalty for not using E-Verify can be jail time along with fines and loss of local government status.
State and local governments have been forced to step in the space left by the federal government which has failed to implement comprehensive immigration reform, said Edwards.
“It will help facilitate the mandates that have been placed on local governments in complying with illegal immigration reform here in Georgia,” he said of the bill.
Georgia’s law comes on the heels of the U.S. Senate passing a bill that would provide a potential pathway to citizenship for the estimated 11 million illegal immigrants living in the U.S., though that bill is unlikely to be approved by the House of Representatives.
(Photo: Activists protest passage and implementation of immigration bills)