Cobb commission appears to be ready to turn down the IMAGE immigration verification program
February 26, 2013 12:52 AM | 3065 views | 16 16 comments | 5 5 recommendations | email to a friend | print
The sides have lined up in advance of tonight’s Board of Commissioners vote on allowing federal agents to review the hiring records of county contractors to ensure employees are legally able to work in the U.S.

Leading the charge to adopt the federal immigration program are Commissioners JoAnn Birrell and Bob Ott, who have the support of the Georgia Tea Party, Sheriff Neil Warren, District Attorney Vic Reynolds and immigration activist D.A. King of the Dustin Inman Society, among others.

Critics of the proposal include county chairman Tim Lee, Commissioners Helen Goreham and Lisa Cupid; Jerry Gonzalez, executive director of the Georgia Association of Latino Elected Officials; and Rich Pellegrino of the Cobb Immigrant Alliance, among others.

Lee said while he is open to hearing from residents what they think at tonight’s hearing, he is leaning toward voting against the proposal.

“As it’s currently written it’s unclear. It is also burdensome to business as a process with no clear, quantifiable benefit from any perspective, and under those terms I think it makes bad policy,” Lee said.

Lee told Georgia Tea Party Chairman J.D. Van Brink last month that he would try to find a better alternative than requiring contractors who bid on county projects to enroll in the federal immigration program, called the U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement Mutual Agreement between Government and Employers (IMAGE).

“I’ve been struggling for a long time to find a better way, and I am unable to find one,” Lee said.

Lee explained why he supported the county enrolling in the IMAGE program last year, but opposes extending that requirement to county contractors this year.

“As I dug deeper into the program and the circumstances surrounding it, I felt that it raised a concern on my part as to whether or not it was right for local government to require a voluntary federal program onto businesses,” Lee said. “That was my first concern. So I reevaluated it and came to the conclusion that it may not be the best solution. We need to meet the objective of making certain that our tax dollars are not being utilized for illegal aliens.”

Ott said the intent of the ordinance is to ensure that the companies or contractors receiving payment from the county in the form of tax dollars have employees who are legally allowed to work in the U.S.

“I think that’s the No. 1 priority of the whole ordinance,” Ott said.

As for the worry that it’s too burdensome for a business to enroll in, Ott pointed out that there are already Marietta businesses enrolled that have said it’s no trouble.

Goreham has complained that it’s taken the county government 450 hours to complete the certification process, but such work is voluntary, Ott said.

“The 450 hours, the internal audit, that’s all voluntary,” Ott said. “If a company thinks that their I-9s are all up to speed, then they can just have the ICE guys come in and do the inspection, so I just don’t see it burdensome at all, and I think really it comes down to it’s just one more tool to basically enforce the law.”

Another important part of the proposed ordinance is that it addresses independent contractors who are not required to use the E-verify system, Ott said.

“Those are the folks that are paid with 1099 forms,” he said, referring to the form filed by independent contractors.

The Ott-Birrell proposal would require independent contractors to present identification such as a driver’s license before being hired for work, he said.

Also at the meeting tonight, the board will also take up a contentious code amendment proposed by Ott and Goreham that allows people who live on fewer than 2 acres to have hens. Residents may have hens by applying for an annual $150 variance with the county’s Board of Zoning Appeals, a request that would be ratified by the Board of Commissioners.

Birrell and Lee have both criticized the idea of having poultry on fewer than 2 acres, which means Cupid could be the swing vote.

“I believe given our metropolitan community of 700,000 people, that it’s best that we leave our ordinance the way that it is,” Lee said.

Tonight’s meeting begins at 7 p.m. in the board room at 100 Cherokee St. in Marietta.
Comments
(16)
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anonymous
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February 26, 2013
Anyone who wants to work in the USA needs to become a ctitizen. Live here, play here and pay taxes here like all the rest of us do!
Rich Pellegrino
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February 26, 2013
I agree...the undocumented immigrants are already paying millions into our coffers in taxes and other forms of revenue, and they will be able to apply to be citizens under the new Comprehensive Immigration Reform program being proposed and supported in Congress by Dems & Repubs, conservatives and liberals, alike (including Eric Cantor, Jeb Bush, Marco Rubio, Scott Walker, Focus on the Family and other conservative evangelicals, McCain, Lindsay Graham, and many more).

So this Image program debate is baseless.
Just Wait
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February 26, 2013
The biggest problem I see if IMAGE passes is how it would be possible for C.W. Mathews to ever build another road in Cobb County.
Surprise post
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February 26, 2013
C.W.Mathews obviously has all of these people in their back pocket. They have 90% of the government road work and no one ever mentions them when it comes to illegals. I would love a journalist to dig deeper into their business. It is disgusting that C.W.Mathews has not been raided. Apparently they have the police department and all the politicians palms greased heavily!
Eduktor1
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February 26, 2013
Chairman Tim Lee's double-talk on not protecting jobs -- will be remembered by thousands of unemployed and under-employed residents.
Rich Pellegrino
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February 26, 2013
This is not about protecting jobs as no Cobb citizen or group has ever come forward to prove that undocumented immigrants took anyone's job here.

I have offered for six years to help anyone who feels that they have been displaced by an immigrant to get a job and no one has ever come forward...so it is just a bunch of whining from people who apparently don't want to work but want to blame others for their woes.
S Cobb Resident
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February 26, 2013
Between the IAMGE vote and the chicken ordinance; we'll have a good idea where and with whom our new representative, Lisa Cupid,stands.

Right now, it appears to be with Mr. Lee....
Rich Pellegrino
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February 26, 2013
That is an insult to Ms Cupid--an educated, intelligent, very capable woman--who definitely has a mind of her own. (Is it because she is black or a woman or both that you think otherwise?)
Cobb Countian
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February 26, 2013
This county's economy is based on the use of illegal workers.
Watcher...
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February 26, 2013
This statement is so terribly untrue!

Illegal workers have very little impact on Technology, IT, Services, Retail, Medicine, Manufacturing, Distribution, Innovation, Education and Government
Dilligad
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February 26, 2013
We know, that's the problem.
misterbill
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February 26, 2013
Cobb Countian,

you are correct Watcher ids probably Pellegrino.
Joseph Pond
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February 26, 2013
Of the people that have spoke up at the previous two public hearings, more people have supported changing the policy on poultry than any other issue including IMAGE. Nine out of ten speakers on the topic have supported changing it. A MDJ poll taken shows 75% of the people support allowing poultry on less than two acres. The metropolitan communities of Atlanta, Chicago, and New York can handle Backyard Chickens- so can Cobb County!

As a landowner, I have property rights that allow me the use of my property as I see fit provided that I do not interfere with the rights of the public concerning health, safety, peace or convenience. Backyard Chickens would cause no such interference. I do not have the right to determine what my neighbor does on his property just because I do not like it, provided he is following those same rules. In the end, this is what it all boils down to.
4chix
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February 26, 2013
Right, having chickens requires a "contentious code" amendment. It's only that because the commissioners won't listen to the people.
Mystory Man
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February 26, 2013
4chix... Why would government officials "listen to the peolpe". Do you really think this is your country anymore?

Destroy home values
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February 26, 2013
The people are saying NO to chickens. Only a few crazy's would want chickens in an upscale subdivision.
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