MARCH 10, 2010
A Georgia law passed with great fanfare four years ago to crack down on companies that hire illegal immigrants has yet to be enforced because prosecutors can’t bring charges against violators.
The legislature enacted the measure (Georgia Security and Immigration Compliance Act) after officials discovered that a new $63 million courthouse in Cobb County—notorious for being tough on illegal immigration—was practically built by illegal workers. Tax and labor laws were violated left and right with public dollars and lawmakers boldly took action.
They quickly passed a law that’s supposed to ensure that contractors on such public projects use only legal workers by requiring them to verify employees’ status. Additionally, the state Labor Department requires contractors to sign affidavits swearing that their employees are authorized to work in the U.S.
But four years later nothing has changed. Officials in counties throughout Georgia still don’t require public contractors to follow the law and, even those that openly violate it, face no consequences. Prosecutors claim they can’t bring charges because the measure doesn’t provide penalties and the state hasn’t audited a single employer because the legislature hasn’t granted funding to do so.
In other words, it’s a worthless law that hasn’t put a dent in the illegal immigration crisis that has long gripped the Peach State. Even in Cobb County, which prides itself as a place where illegal immigration is not tolerated, undocumented workers are still working on taxpayer-funded projects despite the courthouse scandal. In fact, just last fall a bricklayer was told in Spanish that no papers were required to work on a public project and that the pay was in cash.
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