On April 14, 2011, the Georgia Legislature passed House Bill 87, which would enact the Illegal Immigration Reform and Enforcement Act (the “Act”). The Act, which substantially resembles Arizona’s controversial Senate Bill 1070, “creates new requirements for many Georgia businesses to ensure new hires are eligible to work in the United States and empowers police to investigate the immigration status of certain suspects.”
Among the new regulations is a requirement for Georgia businesses with more than 10 employees to use the federal E-verify program, which helps companies confirm whether their new hires are eligible to work in the United States. The Act gives companies found to have committed a “good-faith” violation of the E-Verify mandate 30 days to comply with the law.
Georgia’s House Bill 87 will also:
- Empower local and state police to arrest illegal immigrants and transport them to state and federal jails;
- Punish people who use fake identification to get a job in Georgia with up to 15 years in prison and up to $250,000 in fines;
- Penalize people who – while committing another crime – knowingly transport or harbor illegal immigrants or encourage them to come to Georgia. First-time offenders would face imprisonment for up to 12 months and up to $1,000 in fines;
- Establish a seven-member Immigration Enforcement Review Board to investigate complaints about local and state government officials not enforcing state immigration-related laws;
- Direct the state Agriculture Department to study the possibility of creating Georgia’s own guest worker program. Some Georgia employers have complained the federal government’s guest worker program is too burdensome and expensive.
Although the legality of Arizona’s law remains pending in the U.S. Supreme Court, Governor Nathan Deal has said he plans to sign House Bill 87 in the near future. When Governor Deal signs, House Bill 87 will become effective.
For questions or more information about how House Bill 87 will affect your business, please contact one of our Employment attorneys.