September 19, 2012

Government agencies face penalties under immigration law


Associated Press

ATLANTA — Almost 600 city and county government agencies in Georgia could lose access to millions of dollars in state loans and grants for failing to comply with a section of the state’s illegal immigration crackdown.

Last year’s law targeting illegal immigration requires employers with two or more employees to file annual reports certifying they and their contractors are using a federal program called E-Verify to check that new hires are eligible to work in the U.S. The state Audits and Accounts Department this month sent a list of 570 agencies to the Community Affairs Department, The Atlanta Journal-Constitution reports (http://bit.ly/Roh8xG).

The letter says those who aren’t in compliance could lose some state funds, including state community development block grants, until they file the required reprost with state auditors. State Auditors Greg Griffin did say in his letter that some might be exempt under the law because they don’t have enough employees.

A Community Affairs Department official told the newspaper Tuesday his agency would send out an email reminding government agencies on the list to comply with the state’s immigration law.

Some local government officials said they were unaware of the law’s requirements. Others blamed their missing reports on staff turnovers and heavy workloads.

State auditors sent out a letter in June, warning nearly 1,200 government agencies that they were not complying with the law and that the Immigration Enforcement Review Board could sanction them. That punishment could include fines of up to $5,000 for officials who “knowingly” violate the law.

D.A. King, an anti-illegal immigration activist, filed a complaint with the board in early July, alleging that more than 1,000 city and county government agencies were not complying. The board plans to discuss the issue at its meeting Thursday.