Activist lauds Board of Commissioners role in ICE program
by Geoff Folsom
gfolsom@mdjonline.com
May 23, 2012 01:00 AM | 4033 views | 14 14 comments | 16 16 recommendations | email to a friend | print
MARIETTA — Foes of the immigration issue squared off moments after the Cobb Board of Commissioners approved an immigration employment agreement with a federal agency Tuesday evening.

During the public comment portion of the meeting, immigration enforcement activist D.A. King, founder of the Cobb-based Dustin Inman Society, praised commissioners for becoming the first county or city government in Georgia, and one of 10 nationally, to join U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement’s ICE Mutual Agreement between Government and Employers program. The program goes beyond using the federal E-Verify system to check immigration status, submitting the county to initial audits and inspections of its employment procedures, but then refraining from additional audits for two years if there are no problems.

King said the county should extend the program to contractors that it hires.

“While I have serious doubts that there are a lot of illegal aliens working for Cobb County, I am sure and certain from my time in the capitol, that there are a lot of people in the country illegally working for contractors who do work periodically for the county,” he said. “Like the majority of Cobb Countians, I don’t want one dime of my money going to illegal labor if there is a tool that could be put in place that would stop it.”

But Rich Pellegrino of the Cobb Immigrant Alliance, part of a small group of pro-immigration protesters at the meeting, condemned the commissioners’ decision. He said that since the county began its tough immigration stance in 2006, it has experienced budget deficits, which led to property tax increases and service cuts and an inability to recruit police officers to the county.

“So much for the law and order arguments of being tough on immigration, because it’s only hurt the public safety of this community,” Pellegrino said. “It doesn’t take a rocket scientist to figure out how trying to drive out one segment of the community, who work hard and pay taxes here, has a ripple effect through the whole community resulting in budget deficits, the closing of businesses and so forth.”

At one point, Pellegrino referred to King as his “colleague,” which led King to interrupt to tell Commission Chairman Tim Lee that he resented the remark.

The meeting started with a presentation in which Lee signed an IMAGE agreement with Brock Nicholson, ICE special agent in charge for the Atlanta field office. Nicholson said he has been proud to partner with Cobb County, starting with the 287(g) program the agency has with the Cobb Sheriff’s Office, which allows local governments to have access to the ICE database. Since 2007, thousands of Cobb inmates have been identified as illegal immigrants.

“We applaud your forward thinking, we appreciate the partnership,” Nicholson said.

Lee said the IMAGE agreement will help prevent possible terrorist attacks and protect employees against discrimination based upon citizenship or natural origin.

“The message, if there is one, is that Cobb County takes its responsibility very seriously to make sure that everything possibly that could be done is being done to make sure the laws are being followed in our county, and to make sure there’s an opportunity for equal employment for those that deserve it,” Lee said after the meeting.

For the first time in months, the public comment portion of the meeting included remarks from Joseph Pond, who has battled through courts and commission meetings trying to allow for backyard chickens to be kept at homes on property of less than two acres. He said Tuesday that rules on backyard chickens should be set by homeowners associations, for those who chose to live in a neighborhood that has one, not by the county.

“Cobb County has 700,000 people, it is not possible for some countywide zoning ordinance to respect the rights of 700,000 people. Neighborhood associations can,” he said. “Cobb County has become much too big for micromanagement by the local government.”

In other action commissioners:

n Approved creating a Priority Industrial Area future land use category, giving the designation to McCollum Field Airport and surrounding area, the area surrounding the Colonial Pipeline tank farm near Powder Springs, area around the intersection of Mableton Parkway and Lee Industrial Boulevard and all areas in Cobb south of Interstate 20. The designation is intended to make it more difficult to zone those areas in categories other than industrial to ensure that Cobb has a competitive balance of land uses.

n Approved putting $30,000 in contingency money from the general fund into the budget for the Board of Equalization. The board has to deal with an increased number of appeals as a result of a 2010 state law that went into effect last year. The law has made more people aware of changes in their property values, which means more are appealing, leading to a heavier workload for employees.

n Approved a contract with W.E. Contracting Company Inc. of Acworth to improve dehumidification and air quality at the Mountain View Aquatic Center, 2650 Gordy Parkway. The $723,695 project is being paid for with 2011 SPLOST money. The pool will be closed from July 9 until Oct. 15 to accommodate the renovations.

n Approved a resolution creating a new enterprise zone in south Cobb, partly by combing the Veteran’s Memorial and Six Flags enterprise zones. The areas are considered to have a lack of building permits, pervasive poverty and high crime rates, making them eligible for abatements or exemptions from property or occupation taxes, as well as fees.

n Approved the submission of an application with the Georgia Department of Community Affairs to expand existing opportunity zone area in south Cobb. The designation allows businesses in the areas to qualify for tax credits of up to $3,500 per job.

n Approved contract with Matriarch Construction Company Inc. for drainage system improvements on New Macland Road, near McEachern High School. The Tyrone company’s bid of $259,999 beat out Baldwin Paving Company Inc. of Marietta’s bid of $269,763 and Ohmshiv Construction LLC of Loganville’s bid of $288,483. The project is being funded with 2011 SPLOST money.

n Approved authorizing the upgrade of the Department of Transportation’s information system for $215,000. The project is being paid for with 2011 SPLOST money.
Comments
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Marie in Marietta
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January 22, 2013
Now, in 2013, Tim has changed his (Chamber of Commerce) tune.
mk- to stupid
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May 23, 2012
Boy, you seem to draw certain conclusions that I guess you pulled out of your taco. Typical open border whiner.

I would only suggest people that are illegal, are illegal.

I would suggest that many of the constuction jobs have been hijacked by men (& women), that run over the border, pay a coyote to escourt them safely to a U.S. destination or over stay their visas.

I am in the constuction business.

I live it!

There is no fooling me.

Call me whatever you want, I don't fall for the 'racist' mantra!!.

We are losing our country.

We are reaching a tipping point of people coming here, that have an alliegence to other countries.

Black, brown, white or blue,.. if you come w/ the best of intentions, the legal way,.. welcome to America.

If you lie, cheat and steal Americans jobs,... don't let the cactus prick you while we kick you back over the border!
StillStuck
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May 24, 2012
MK - this is the funniest response I have ever read on this blog. I am no open border whiner - but thanks for drawing a conclusion. We agree that illegals are illegal and need to be returned to their home nation. Beyond that, we will have to part company.

You don't fall for the 'racist' mantra, yet your blog contains at a very minumum three offensive remarks. I did not pull my reason out of a taco. They don't pay coyotes to escort them, and the cactus will not prick them as they are sent back.

Your response reveals your true intent and the intent of alot of people in this movement - anger that boils over into hate. If you think that your response will get you the country back, good luck. I am sure if you had spoke to the people of the northeast in the 19th century when all the Irish and Italians came into the country, they thought they were at a tipping point and going to lose their country as well - and yet America survived because it is bigger than the hate of a vocal minority. They first came into the country and could not speak the language...they first lived in certain sections of town in separate communities...but, in time, they assimilated and are now leaders of industry and government.

At the end of the day, all the illegals might be sent home and our borders closed to any future immigration but there will still be Hispanics on construction, landscape and road jobs. They will still struggle with the language for one to two generations. They will still live in two worlds for at leasta generation - but eventually, they too will be American.

This system can be fixed but you will still hate. And no references to tacos, sombreros, cactus, or coyotes will change that.
anonymous
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May 23, 2012
Pellegrino says that enforcement is the cause of the problems! Just when i thought he couldn't get any airy-er. Or be more goofy than Kevin Foley.

Great news for Cobb. we have D.A. King to thank for al of this.
Robet Johnson
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May 24, 2012
Hard to say who should be th emost insulted here Foley or Pellegrino.
Jeremy G
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May 23, 2012
This is a very good step for our County. The laws are as simple as they are old. if you were not born here or have not gone through proper channels to obtain citizenship, you should not be allowed to work. PERIOD. I just wish Cobb would take steps outside of the workplace and into the schools and neighborhoods to cleanse some of the transiat activity. If you think I am just being unfair and racist, think again. I support any person who comes here and wishes to integrate with our society and become a functioning and contributing member of this country. HOWEVER, if you think that is the goal of every illegal immigrant, I challenge you. Spend 1 day on Sandtown Road between powder springs and ChatTech and you will see the real underside of imigration.

There have been 17 burgularies in our area in the past year, all within 2 miles of Sandtown rd. Of these, the people who have been caught have all been illegal and from that area.

Well Done
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May 23, 2012
The Board of Commissioners has done an excellent job on this issue. And DA King deserves credit for preserving our tax dollars.
Thank you
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May 23, 2012
Thank you Cobb County and ICE.
mk- loopholes
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May 23, 2012
Could D.A. please explain why he asked that all contractors to be included in this by 2014?

What happened to 2013??

We're just 5 months into 2012!

Aren't all contractors bidding for government contracts already REQUIRED to use E-Verify?

And if this is true, why aren't there any ON SITE audits being performed?

D.A., what is your suggestion , as far as performing audits on all these companies we all know are not in compliance?

I am 100% sure that the contractors, road crews, landscaping companies working in Cobb & Smyrna are getting past compliance, simply by paying CASH and keeping day labores off the payroll.

If anyone wants to be honest, come to Atlanta Road in Smyrna an audit Baldwin Paving . They are raking in MILLIONs in taxpayers money laying UNneeded sidewalks using illegals!

Croy, CW Matthews , Pebblebrook Landscapers, Arcadis,.. etc., etc,. etc,

(audits of PAPERWORK is a LOOPHOLE!!)
StuckonStupid
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May 23, 2012
So...if a person is brown, they are illegal? You make a huge assumption that a majority, if not all, of the people working on road crews and laborers at the companies you listed are here illegally. What is the basis of this assumption? The color of their skin. Because I can assure you that most of these companies are very cautious about who they are hiring. How do you know on-site audits do not occur? Because there are brown people out there working?

I am 100% behind this policy decision but don't fool yourself into thinking that its enforcement will remove every Hispanic from every road crew or landscape job in Cobb County...but your closing comment seems to imply that is your wish.

In your grand vision of the future legal immigrants will still choose to send money home to family. they will still be living in rental homes that do not pay property taxes. Many will still need their children to be taught English to assimilate into the schools (unless we require them to learn English to move here and go to school). Many will still need medical care without insurance (unless you want these companies you listed to be forced to provide insurance and that is un-American).

This policy is a good step for dealing with illegal immigration but it is not the solution to all the problems most people list here. Hate and bigotry do not provide real solutions except to kick as much of the can south of the border as humanly possible. Once the illegals are all gone, what do you propose should be done with the legals who aren't "stepping up to the plate" by the standards of DA King and his minions?
Pat H
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May 24, 2012
I, for one, want every illegal alien gone from Cobb County, the State of Georgia and the United States, as I, for one, am being taxed and taxed and taxed for all their perks, free schooling, medical care, Section 8 and welfare for their anchor babies.

What will we do for work crews when they are gone? What we have done since our nation has been founded, the American citizens, of all colors and nationalities, will do the work. See Mt. Rushmore or Stone Mountain or the Panama Canal or the Hoover Dam, etc. They were not built by illegal immigrants, but honest, taxpaying American citizens.
Jane W.
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May 23, 2012
Enforcing our laws not only lowers unemployment among citizens and legal immigrants -- it also clarifies for illegals their own status and helps them make the right decisions.
Jeremy G
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May 23, 2012
Well Said.
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