King filed a complaint in July with the Georgia Immigration Enforcement Review Board that accused 1,214 government agencies in the state of failing to provide information to the state Department of Audits and Accounts to allow it to determine whether they’re subject to House Bill 87. He said the board has yet to respond.
Part of the controversial immigration reform bill, which became law in July 2011, requires government entities with two or more employees to file annual reports on their use, and that of their contractors, of the E-Verify system, a federal program that checks the legal status of workers they hire.
“I have had zero recognition, response or official notice from the Immigration Enforcement Review Board,” King said Wednesday.
Among the local and county agencies that King cited are the Acworth Area Convention and Visitors Bureau Authority, Acworth Downtown Development Authority, Acworth Lake Authority, Cobb Recreation Authority, Cobb Solid Waste Management Authority, Cobb Stadium Authority, Development Authority of Cobb, Development Authority of Powder Springs, Development Authority of Marietta, Downtown Development Authority of Austell, Hospital Authority of Smyrna, Housing Authority of Cobb, Housing Authority of Acworth, Kennesaw Development Authority, Lake Allatoona Preservation Authority, Powder Springs Downtown Development Authority, Austell Public Facilities Authority and Joint Development Authority of Cherokee and Cobb counties.
While the overall list does contain cities in Georgia, many of the agencies, particularly in Cobb, are simply boards whose members are volunteers charged with providing recommendations and typically do not staff employees. That would make them exemptions to the law.
“The ones that the county has any influence over, appointments to the board or anything like that, don’t have any employees,” county spokesman Robert Quigley said.
King has filed two other complaints with the state Department of Community Affairs regarding non-compliance with the federal Systematic Alien Verification for Entitlements program, a database agencies are required by state law to use to check the legal status of public benefit applicants.
On Monday, a panel of three 11th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals judges upheld the “Show Your Papers Law,” which is considered the most controversial portion of H.B. 87. The ruling allows local, county and state law enforcement officers to check the immigration status of criminal suspects who fail to show proper identification.
King said he was “very pleased” with the court’s decision.
“It’s important that people understand that the federal government has had laws in place since 1940 that require every alien to prove lawful presence in this country by carrying on their person documents showing that they are in the country lawfully,” King said.
The state law is similar to an aggressive anti-illegal immigration law passed in Arizona that the U.S. Supreme Court upheld in June.
Cobb Immigrant Alliance spokesman Rich Pellegrino said that he and fellow immigrant rights activists were not surprised by the ruling. He said they have been meeting with Cobb police and other local law enforcement agencies about racial profiling, an issue some of the law’s critics fear will arise with its enforcement.
“They’ve all indicated with one voice that they’re not interested in the immigration status of anybody that they stop or arrest, and that that will not change because the law does not require their officers to do that,” Pellegrino said. “It gives them the discretion that they’ve already had.”
Cobb Police Chief John Houser was not available for an interview about his department’s plans to enforce the new law. Marietta Police Chief Dan Flynn did not respond to a request by press time. It remains unclear when the law — which had been placed under injunction — can be implemented as the case could be appealed to the full court of appeals.