Last year the Cobb Board of Commissioners agreed to become certified with the federal IMAGE program, which stands for ICE Mutual Agreement between Government and Employers.
County spokesman Robert Quigley said that process should be completed in the next few months while the county is waiting on final approval from U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE).
The county has 4,200 full time employees and 850 part time employees.
On Feb. 26 the Board of Commissioners may vote on a proposal by Commissioners JoAnn Birrell and Bob Ott that would require contractors doing business with the county to also apply for IMAGE certification.
Marietta Mayor Steve Tumlin said he wants to see his city achieve IMAGE certification as well as the contractors with whom Marietta does business.
“As we were early participants in E-Verify and happy with such, I personally think that Marietta adopting the IMAGE certification is an excellent way of staying in compliance,” Tumlin said.
Tumlin said it’s not enough just to have city employees be IMAGE certified because city contractors represent the city as well. Contractors, in turn, hire subcontractors, who would also have to certify themselves and their employees if working on a city project.
“As a city we use federal contracts, do a lot of DOT contracts, we work with a lot of different people, and I think we have a duty to make sure the subcontractors are in compliance also. They vicariously represent us whether they’re on the list or not.”
Powder Springs Mayor Pat Vaughn said she wants her City Council to discuss the matter at their Wednesday meeting. Vaughn said she believes Powder Springs should seek IMAGE certification, but she wants to learn more about it first.
“We need to know the ins and the outs,” Vaughn said. “Let’s say that we do find something amiss. What do you do at that point for an employee you’ve had, say, going on 20 years or 10 years or something? Those are things we have to discuss.”
Vaughn said she is working on securing an expert such as an ICE agent to attend the meeting to help the Powder Springs Council better understand the program.
Acworth, Kennesaw not buying in
Acworth Mayor Tommy Allegood said Wednesday his city has no plans to seek IMAGE certification.
“We do not have any plans at this point to implement IMAGE certification to our employees or our contractors,” Allegood said. “We are basically using the E-verify and are compliant with everything as far as that goes, and at this time our staff and our City Council are not discussing any plans to even move forward with something like that.”
Kennesaw Mayor Mark Mathews said his city has no immediate plans, either.
“I’ve personally been sitting back watching the county on this, and we’ll make whatever decisions we need to make after the county has taken action,” Mathews said. “There’s not been a big push for us to do anything at this point from anywhere. But it’s not that we’re avoiding it because we’re not. It’s just not on the radar at this point.”
Austell Mayor Joe Jerkins said he hasn’t discussed the matter, but was open to considering it.
“If we need to do it, we’ll do something. I’m not sure what,” Jerkins said. “We don’t want to be doing anything illegal.”
Smyrna Mayor Max Bacon said he was not opposed to seeking IMAGE certification, provided it didn’t cost the city anything or duplicate something the city was already doing.
“If it doesn’t cost any money, I don’t have a problem with us doing it, but I would need to learn more about exactly what it is and why we would be doing it, and then if it did show that we have employees that are not here legally, that they’re illegal residents, then what I want to know is how did we employ them to begin with. Why didn’t the system we have in place now work?”
King takes swipe at Bacon
Immigration activist D.A. King of the Dustin Inman Society answered Bacon’s question about how a government could employ an illegal immigrant.
If Bacon has illegal immigrant workers on the city’s payroll, they were hired before the use of E-Verify with false or stolen ID or were able to slide through the E-Verify system with fake or stolen ID. King said E-Verify only goes forward from the date of authority to use the system, not backwards for existing employees. And it is not foolproof. That’s why the Obama administration recently streamlined and improved the IMAGE system.
“IMAGE audits expose use of stolen and fake ID,” King said. “I suspect that is regarded as a negative to many entrenched political bosses in Cobb. It certainly is the case with Boss Lee.”
King said illegal immigrants lie on their I-9 forms every day just as they use stolen ID on I-9 forms.
“Why am I not surprised that Mayor for life Max Bacon doesn’t seem to know that?” King said.
Bacon barks back
Bacon took a few swipes at King, noting that adopting IMAGE would presumably take care of the illegal immigrant problem, “until D.A. King finds something else we need to be doing.”
Bacon also questioned what King does for a living.
“I need all the help I can get, but I’ve had some pretty radical people come down here and make a lot of statements that are untrue about people from different countries, and they’re not true, and they’ve used D.A. King’s name, and it makes me wonder about his credibility,” Bacon said, laughing. “D.A. King needs to get a life. I’m going to send him back to the country he was born in, which was the country of euthanasia and see if we can’t get him back there as soon as possible.”
In response, King referred to Smyrna as a Mecca to many illegal immigrants and the people who employ them.
“I will pass his un-medicated insults on to the members of the Dustin Inman Society board of advisors,” King said. “Meantime, anytime Mayor Bacon wants to confront me face to face – and I do mean anytime, I can meet him. For the record, I was born on an Air Force base in South Dakota to proud American citizens whose great grandparents immigrated here lawfully.”
King went on to say, “I will certainly be happy to inform Mayor for life Bacon if I find any other no-cost programs to save jobs for Americans – including real immigrants. Funny, many of us are very curious about everything Bacon does for a living as well. I live on personal funds and donations. Maybe Bacon wants to donate?”