Published March 31, 2011
Here are key points in the illegal immigration bill (House Bill 87) targeting immigrants who are undocumented and those who assist them. Georgia legislators appear likely to pass this legislation in April.
• Creates a new criminal offense of aggravated identity fraud for anyone willfully using fraudulent documents to get a job. A person under 21 would be punished by 1-3 years in prison and/or a fine up to $5,000. Those 21 and up would face minimally 1-10 years in jail and/or a fine up to $100,000.
• Empowers any peace officer with probable cause to believe a person has committed a criminal offense, including a traffic offense, to investigate their immigration status if they cannot produce valid identification and detain them if they are found to be in the country illegally.
• States that a person’s race, color or country of origin is not to be a determinant in investigating their immigration status.
• States that a person who contacts the police to report a crime, as a witness to a crime or victim of a crime will not have their status investigated.
• Requires that when anyone is held in county or municipal jail for any reason, an effort is made to verify that they are in the country legally and if they are not in the country legally, immigration authorities will be notified and they will be subject to detention.
• Creates a new criminal offense: transporting or moving an illegal alien. Creates a new criminal offense: knowingly and intentionally inducing an illegal alien to enter Georgia. Penalties range from less than 1 year in jail and/or a fine to
1-5 years in jail and/or a fine.
• Creates a new criminal offense: concealing or harboring an illegal alien. Harboring is defined to mean anything that substantially helps an illegal alien to remain in the United States. Exceptions are: helping infants, children, a crime victim, in a medical emergency, or attorney-client representation. Penalties mirror those for transporting an illegal alien.
• Requires any private employer with 5 or more employees to use the federal E-Verify program to determine that any newly hired employee is in the country legally. This will be effective July 2012 for employers of 100 or more and Dec. 31, 2012 for employers of 5 or more. In order to receive a business license or renew a license, businesses will have to show they are registered with E-Verify. Violation of this will be a criminal offense.
• Requires anyone applying to receive a public benefit to show via a secure and verifiable document that they are a legal resident and to swear and sign an affidavit to that effect. By Aug. 1, 2011 the state attorney general website will have to provide a list of what are secure and verifiable identification documents. As of January 2012, no public agency can accept anything other than this type of document. Exceptions are provided for those providing emergency medical services, for those giving service to infants, children and victims of crimes, for a person reporting a crime or for those helping people to obtain a temporary protective order.
• Authorizes any legal resident 21 and older to file a civil action against any official or agency to require enforcement of provisions of this law.
• Authorizes the state attorney general to bring a civil action against any political entity in the state deemed not to be enforcing the code section.
• States that no local body, including counties, municipalities, school districts, commissions or others, can adopt a sanctuary policy that would restrict local employees from cooperating with federal or other law enforcement officers on immigration status information while the local employee is performing official duties.