Georgia Governor Sunny Perdue signed Senate Bill 529, Georgia Security and Immigration Compliance Act, on April 17. This law includes some very interesting provisions which, in effect, codify the role of states in immigration status verification, employer and employee responsibilities, and the provision of public services to undocumented persons. The law surely contains some problematic language. However, I am impressed by the evenhandedness and reasonableness of many of the provisions. For instance, local law officials must be certified by the state in order to enforce federal immigration law; undocumented persons under 18 can presumably continue to receive public benefits; and persons 18 and over can continue to receive Good Samaritan services. There is a special section devoted to stemming human trafficking.
This may well become a model for other states. I have excerpted large sections of the law.
For a complete copy of the law, go here. For the summary provided by the Governor’s office, go here.
Governor’s Office fact sheet on the law: go here:
Excerpts from the law:
From section 2:
On or after July 1, 2007, every public employer shall register and participate in the federal work authorization program to verify information of all new employees. No public employer shall enter into a contract for the physical performance of services within this state unless the contractor registers and participates in the federal work authorization program to verify information of all new employees.
From section 3:
Anti-coercion and human trafficking provisions
‘Coercion’ means exposing or threatening to expose any fact or information that if
revealed would tend to subject a person to criminal or immigration proceedings, hatred, contempt, or ridicule;
Maintaining the status or condition of a person arising from a pledge by that person of his or her personal services as security for a debt, if the value of those services as reasonably assessed is not applied toward the liquidation of the debt or the length and nature of
those services are not respectively limited and defined, or preventing a person from acquiring information pertinent to the disposition of such debt; or
Promising benefits or the performance of services which the accused does not intend to deliver or perform or knows will not be delivered or performed. Evidence of failure to deliver benefits or perform services standing alone shall not be sufficient to authorize a conviction under this Code section.
‘Labor servitude’ means work or service of economic or financial value which is performed or provided by another person and is induced or obtained by coercion or deception.
‘Sexual servitude’ means (A) Any sexually explicit conduct as defined in paragraph (4) of
subsection (a) of Code Section 16-12-100 for which anything of value is
directly or indirectly given…which conduct is induced or obtained by coercion or deception or which conduct is induced or obtained from a person under the age of 18 years; or….
Any person who commits the offense of trafficking a person for labor or sexual servitude shall be guilty of a felony, and upon conviction thereof, shall be punished by imprisonment for not less than one nor more than 20 years. Any person who commits the offense of trafficking a person for labor or sexual servitude against a person who is under the age of 18 years shall be guilty of a felony, and upon conviction thereof, shall be punished by imprisonment for not less than ten nor more than 20 years.
A corporation may be prosecuted under this Code section for an act or omission constituting a crime under this Code section only if an agent of the corporation performs the conduct which is an element of the crime while acting within the scope of his or her office or employment and on behalf of the corporation and the commission of the crime was either authorized, requested, commanded, performed, or within the scope of his or her employment on behalf of the corporation or constituted a pattern of illegal activity that an agent of the company knew or should have known was occurring.
From Section 4
Certification of law enforcement officials
The commissioner is authorized and directed to negotiate the terms of a memorandum of understanding between the State of Georgia and the United States Department of Justice or Department of Homeland Security concerning the enforcement of federal immigration and custom laws, detention and removals, and investigations in the State of Georgia.
The commissioner shall designate appropriate peace officers to be trained pursuant to the memorandum of understanding provided for in subsections (b) and (c) of this Code section. Such training shall be funded pursuant to the federal Homeland Security Appropriation Act of 2006, Public Law 109-90, or any subsequent source of federal funding.
The provisions of this subsection shall become effective upon such funding.
A peace officer certified as trained in accordance with the memorandum of understanding as provided in this Code section is authorized to enforce federal immigration and customs laws while performing within the scope of his or her authorized duties.”
Verification of nationality of persons stopped for DUI or put in jail
When any person charged with a felony or with driving under the influence pursuant to Code Section 40-6-391 is confined, for any period, in the jail of the county, any municipality or a jail operated by a regional jail authority, a reasonable effort shall be made to determine the nationality of the person so confined.
If the prisoner is a foreign national, the keeper of the jail or other officer shall make a reasonable effort to verify that the prisoner has been lawfully admitted to the United States and if lawfully admitted, that such lawful status has not expired. If verification of
lawful status can not be made from documents in the possession of the prisoner, verification shall be made within 48 hours through a query to the Law Enforcement Support Center (LESC) of the United States Department of Homeland Security or other office or agency designated for that purpose by the United States Department of Homeland Security. If the prisoner is determined not to be lawfully admitted to the United States, the keeper of the jail or other officer shall notify the United
States Department of Homeland Security.
Nothing in this Code section shall be construed to deny a person bond or from being released from confinement when such person is otherwise eligible for release.
The Georgia Sheriffs Association shall prepare and issue guidelines and procedures used to comply with the provisions of this Code section.”
From Section 6
Deterrence of fake immigration lawyers and related abuses
The purpose and intent of this chapter is to establish and enforce standards of ethics in the profession of immigration assistance by private individuals who are not licensed attorneys.
[scope of attorney services specifically stated; non-attorney organizations providing help must disclose they are not lawyers]
Real lawyers, employers and community service organizations free to provide services relating to immigration status
The following persons are exempt from this chapter:
An attorney licensed to practice law in Georgia or an attorney licensed to practice law in any other state or territory of the United States or in any foreign country when acting with the approval of a judge having lawful jurisdiction over the matter;
A not for profit organization recognized by the Board of Immigration Appeals under 8 C.F.R. 292.2(a) and employees, of those organizations accredited under 8 C.F.R. 292.2(d);
Any organization employing or desiring to employ an alien or nonimmigrant alien, where the organization, its employees, or its agents provide advice or assistance in immigration matters to alien or nonimmigrant alien employees or potential employees without compensation from the individuals to whom such advice or assistance is provided.
From Section 7
Employer misconduct to be penalized by removal of expense deductions
On or after January 1, 2008, no wages or remuneration for labor services to an individual of $600.00 or more per annum may be claimed and allowed as a deductible business expense for state income tax purposes by a taxpayer unless such individual is an authorized employee. The provisions of this subsection shall apply whether or not an Internal Revenue Service Form 1099 is issued in conjunction with the wages or
This Code section shall not apply to any individual hired by the taxpayer prior to January 1, 2008.
This Code section shall not apply to any taxpayer where the individual being paid is not directly compensated or employed by said taxpayer.
This Code section shall not apply to wages or remuneration paid for labor services to any individual who holds and presents to the taxpayer a valid license or identification card issued by the Georgia Department of Driver Services.
From Section 8
Required withholding of $600 for employees who do not comply
.A withholding agent shall be required to withhold state income tax at the rate of 6 percent of the amount of compensation paid to an individual which compensation is reported on Form 1099 and with respect to which the individual has:
Failed to provide a taxpayer identification number;
Failed to provide a correct taxpayer identification number; or
Provided an Internal Revenue Service issued taxpayer identification number issued for nonresident aliens.
From Section 9
Title 50 of the Official Code of Georgia Annotated, relating to state government, is amended by adding a new chapter at the end thereof, to be designated Chapter 36, to read as follows:
Limitations on public services on behalf of undocumented persons over 18, with important good Samaritan – type exemption
Except as provided in subsection (c) of this Code section or where exempted by federal law, on or after July 1, 2007, every agency or a political subdivision of this state shall verify the lawful presence in the United States of any natural person 18 years of age or older who has applied for state or local public benefits, as defined in 8 U.S.C.
Section 1621, or for federal public benefits, as defined in 8 U.S.C. Section 1611, that is administered by an agency or a political subdivision of this state.
Verification of lawful presence under this Code section shall not be required:
For assistance for health care items and services that are necessary for the treatment of an emergency medical condition, as defined in 42 U.S.C. Section 1396b(v)(3), of the alien involved and are not related to an organ transplant procedure;
For short-term, noncash, in-kind emergency disaster relief;
For public health assistance for immunizations with respect to immunizable diseases and for testing and treatment of symptoms of communicable diseases whether or not such symptoms are caused by a communicable disease; or
For programs, services, or assistance such as soup kitchens, crisis counseling and intervention, and short-term shelter specified by the United States Attorney General
[provision for accepting certain persons into public post secondary education programs