All three read that column, and here are their answers. (Note: All responses came after the preliminary injunction ruling in Arizona.)
Question: "Will you commit to using the power of the Governor's office to put in place legislation that requires use of the no-cost federal E-Verify employment verification system to obtain or renew a business license/ "occupational tax certificate" in Georgia? This is a YES or NO question."
Roy Barnes: "E-Verify is an excellent system and Georgia needs to expand this program to determine employment eligibility."
(I will let the reader decide if this is a yes or no response.)
Nathan Deal: "Yes."
Karen Handel: "Yes."
Question: What will you do, if anything, to improve the law to protect jobs for Georgians on Public Works contracts for legal labor?
Barnes: "We need to make Georgia work again, and that means protecting and creating jobs for Georgians. It also includes enforcing labor laws. All people - including employers who hire illegal immigrants - should be subject to these laws...."
Deal: "Laws are not effective unless oversight and enforcement are performed effectively. I fully support the use of E-Verify for public works projects and will work with the Legislature to ensure our state's requirements are enforced and jobs are protected for those who are legally eligible for them."
Handel: "As Secretary of State, I implemented the 'SAVE' program to verify the work visa status of all new applicants for professional licenses. SAVE ... is a federal database that helps us ensure that applicants who are not legally eligible to work in the United States will be denied licensure. As governor I will continue to provide leadership on illegal immigration issues by developing a system to ensure the "SAVE" program is fully implemented throughout Georgia."
Question: Given the state of the Georgia budget, what will you do, if anything, to improve existing Georgia law and procedure to gain compliance with the code that is aimed at stopping Georgia's finite and shrinking taxpayer-funded public benefits from going to ineligible illegal aliens?
Barnes: "I understand Georgians' frustration with the federal government not living up to its obligations when it comes to controlling our borders. When the federal government fails to protect our nation's borders, states like Georgia are forced to deal with the ramifications of illegal immigration. We are a nation of laws ... and the law must be obeyed."
Deal: "The cost of illegal immigration to the taxpayers of Georgia is immense. As governor, I will work to strengthen the law requiring identity and citizenship verification for all individuals seeking taxpayer-funded services and benefits. ... In 2006 ... I wrote and enacted into federal law the requirement that all individuals seeking enrollment in the Medicaid program must verify through documentation their identity and U.S. citizenship to ensure eligibility for taxpayer-funded benefits."
Handel: "As governor, my administration will be committed to following and enforcing the law. State law already prohibits state 'benefits' for illegal immigrants but, as we've seen recently with the Board of Regents, divisions of our government may not be following the letter, not to mention the intent, of the law. We need consistent and thorough (sic) and I will make it a priority that we do so."
Question: On the premise that we cannot effectively change what we do not measure, will you commit to putting in place questionnaires and monitoring procedures to ascertain the citizenship/immigration status of individuals and families receiving federally mandated taxpayer funded benefits so as to create an official database from which to gain public knowledge of the real cost of illegal immigration to Georgians? This is a YES or NO question.
Barnes: "The financial mandate of monitoring and calculating the impact of the illegal immigration problem should not be placed on our state. The federal government should bear this fiscal burden."
Question: "If elected, will you do whatever necessary to prohibit illegal aliens from attending any school in Georgia's university system and our technical college system? This is a YES or NO question.
Barnes: "I am not in favor of illegal immigrants attending Georgia's public colleges and universities."
Question: Will you commit to using the power of the Georgia Governor's office to create, pass and sign into law legislation based on Arizona's SB 1070, including making illegal immigration a state crime in Georgia?
Barnes: "States are forced to deal with the ramifications of illegal immigration; therefore, "... I would sign legislation similar to what Arizona passed. The state can enforce federal law so long as it is not racial profiling. However, I do not agree with making illegal immigration a state crime because it puts the financial burden on our state..."
Deal: "Yes ... I ... remain strongly committed to this mission for Georgia. The ruling by Judge Bolton regarding the Arizona law will not interfere with my efforts to enact a similar law in Georgia. ... I look forward to further court challenges to overturn this unjust ruling."
Handel: "Absolutely, I am 100 percent committed to passing a similar law in Georgia. ... I will be ... (a) strong ally in fighting the Obama Administration on this issue."
Thank you, candidates.
D.A. King is a nationally recognized authority on illegal immigration and president of the Cobb-based Dustin Inman Society, which advocates for the enforcement of immigration laws. On the Web: www.TheDustinInmanSociety.org