The MDJ recently ran a story on Commissioner Birrell’s intent to pass an ordinance to require Cobb’s contractors to apply to become IMAGE certified. Including the headline (“Birrell renews debate on making county contractors screen job applicants for immigration status”), much of the “news” was inaccurate in explaining IMAGE.

While it is true that IMAGE certification requires use of the no-cost E-Verify system to help insure a legal workforce, neither IMAGE or E-verify “screens job applicants.” E-Verify is used to verify the work eligibility of newly hired employees. Repeat, it is not a job-applicant-screening device. Neither is IMAGE.

Initiated in 2006, through audits, the IMAGE program detects prior use of stolen or fake ID used to by job applicants to get hired. Identity theft is a horrible and fast-growing crime that has long-lasting effects on the victim. The identity thief may also use your information to fraudulently apply for credit, file taxes or get medical services. These crimes acts can damage your credit status, and cost you time and money to restore your good name.

Cobb County directly employs a lot of people and because it is an employer, in 2012 the county saw fit to use the IMAGE certification process to be sure that our taxes aren’t being used to pay illegal alien workers who had stolen our ID. Birrell and Gambrill’s proposed ordinance is the same one that Commissioner Bob Ott put forward seven years ago as a logical and commonsense expansion of that concept.

Most Cobb County voters, including here at our house where my wife is an immigrant, don’t want to pay “undocumented” workers through the contractors that the county hires.

It is time to tell the contractors who are paid with the same tax dollars to begin the IMAGE certification process. Commissioner Bob Ott worked hard to see passage of this contractor ordinance in 2012, but lost the fight to the power of the donor-class special interests who will fight hard again to stop any audit of their past hiring practices.

Ott originally proposed the IMAGE idea to the board. He should be thanked and with his vote along with Gambrill and Birrell, this important ordinance will become ground-breaking reality. We hope the reporters and editors at the MDJ will be more careful in accuracy on IMAGE. Maybe ask immigration expert D.A. King, who wrote the 2012 proposal that should have passed.

John Litland



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