So far, the news stories are grossly incomplete.
One of the requirements of HB 87 is that applicants for Public Benefits provide ID credentials regarded as “secure and verifiable” to document what they already supposed to have sworn to on an affidavit asking if said applicant is eligible for benefits through either U.S. citizenship or lawfully present alien status.
“Lawfully present alien” is the opposite of “illegal alien.”
Just one of the pesky facts not being offered to the readers of those publications is that all official agencies administering public benefits have been required to collect this affidavit since July 1, 2007 due to the implementation of state Sen. Chip Rogers’ Georgia Security and Immigration Compliance Act of 2006 (SB 529). Proof of eligibility is only common sense to stop illegal aliens from checking a box indicating they are U.S. citizens on the affidavit and then collecting taxpayer provided benefits.
The latest alarm story quotes former Secretary of State Cathy Cox as saying that the added security measures could be “catastrophic.” Oh my.
Here is some more of what the Atlanta newspapers are not including in their news reports:
HB 87 added language that explicitly enabled benefits issuing agencies the authorization to collect both the sworn affidavit and the ID electronically. Previous to HB 87, that possibility was not addressed in the law.
Also not being reported is the fact that the Secretary of State’s office already allows online applicants for many professional licenses to submit documents proving legal alien status by – get this -- the U.S. Mail.
The Atlanta reports are not making it clear that HB 87 officially made delivering the required affidavit and now the secure ID much easier, not more difficult for all concerned.
The news reports reflect contentions that professional license issuance and renewing may be delayed for months because – gulp – people may suddenly choose to physically walk their immigration documents or drivers licenses into the official offices instead of using the electronic submission or the snail-mail delivery system that is already in place. A): Nonsense. B) Why would they? C) So what?
Let’s get something straight. Processing a drivers license or an immigration document along with the already required affidavit is not exactly rocket science. The upgrade in security measures aimed at stopping illegal aliens from getting any of Georgia’s Public Benefits – including professional licenses - is common sense.
Secretary of State Brian Kemp has it just right with his quote in Atlanta news report - “The last thing we want to happen is to keep Georgians from working, but it is also our duty to uphold the laws of this state”
There is a lot more to this story. None of it reflects poorly on HB 87. Let’s hope there is news coverage coming from responsible outlets that includes the missing information.
King is president of the Cobb-based Dustin Inman Society. He has worked closely with Georgia legislators on illegal immigration related legislation.