Georgia Governor Set to Sign Aggressive Immigration Law

By Geetha Adinata, Ford & Harrison LLP

Another domino has fallen in the changing landscape of immigration law. Following in the footsteps of states such as Arizona, Georgia has passed legislation addressing the issue of illegal immigration within its borders. Last week, the Georgia Senate adopted and amended HB 87, which includes numerous provisions that will affect employers doing business in Georgia. Governor Nathan Deal plans to sign the bill when it reaches his desk.

Under the bill, private employers in Georgia with 10 or more employees must use the federal E-Verify work authorization program to determine the immigration status of new workers. Employers will be required to provide an affidavit from the attorney general affirming the company’s authorization to use E-Verify before obtaining or renewing a state business license. Further, public employers will no longer enter into service contracts with contractors that haven’t registered for and participated in the E-Verify program.

The bill also imposes strict fines for the use of fraudulent identification information to obtain employment and for harboring, transporting, and otherwise assisting illegal aliens.

If the fate of the Arizona immigration law is any indication, the ultimate implementation of the Georgia immigration bill may be delayed because of concerns over a state’s ability to dictate immigration policy. Nonetheless, Georgia employers shouldn’t take a “wait and see” approach. Rather, you would be well advised to review your employment verification policies/procedures immediately to ensure your I-9 and associated practices are fully compliant.

For more information on HB 87, see your next issue of Georgia Employment Law Letter.