PTC's Rep. Ramsey reviews his immigration bill success
Georgia Gov. Nathan Deal has said he will sign the controversial immigration reform bill that was carried through the legislature by Republican Rep. Matt Ramsey of Peachtree City.
The bill was in a bit of tug-and-war before it was ultimately passed by the House and the Senate April 14, the last day of the legislative session.
In that process, the bill received a few minor changes, but Ramsey said the most important elements remained in place.
The heart of the bill is aimed at keeping illegal immigrants from gaining employment, as it requires all businesses with 10 or more employees to use a computer network run by the federal government to check a job applicant’s immigration status.
The bill also retained a provision allowing law enforcement officers to check the immigration status of anyone who is being investigated for a crime, including misdemeanors and traffic stops. Current Georgia law allows immigration checks only for those charged with committing a felony offense.
The law will allow law enforcement to report any illegal immigrants to the federal government, but the truth is that Immigrations and Customs Enforcement currently is only deporting immigrants accused of felonies.
The bill also is aimed at withholding public tax “benefits” from being spent on illegal immigrants, a whole laundry list of items including the following, according to a recent ruling from the Georgia Attorney General’s Office:
• Adult education;
• Business certificate, license or registration; also to include occupational and professional licenses;
• Health benefits;
• Housing allowance, grant, guarantee or loan;
• Disability assistance or insurance;
• Rent assistance or subsidy;
• Temporary Assistance for Needy Families (TANF);
• State identification card; and
• State grant or loan.
By federal law, Georgia can not deny access to K-12 schools and also emergency medical care to illegal immigrants, he noted.
“This immigration bill we think is the strongest and most aggressive in the country,” Ramsey said. “It is Constitutional. We are very proud of the product and we think it’s just a great day for Georgia.”
The requirement for Georgia businesses to participate in the federal government’s E-Verify system starts in nine months for the largest companies in the state, with a staggered requirement date for the remaining companies based on their size, Ramsey said.
Businesses must swear in an annual affidavit that they are using E-Verify in order to qualify for a locally-issued business license or tax occupation certificate, Ramsey said.
That means that each city and county in Georgia will be keeping track of those affidavits, and any business found to not be participating in E-Verify after submitting said affidavit can be prosecuted for perjury or false swearing, Ramsey said.
A business that fails to submit such an affidavit may not be issued a business license or occupational tax certificate, Ramsey said.
One concession in the bill, forged by the Senate, was the creation of a study on the U.S. guest worker program by the Georgia Department of Agriculture to provide recommendations for usability improvements to the federal government, Ramsey said.
Ramsey credited passage of the bill to the cooperation between the leadership of the House and the Senate.
“We got almost everything we wanted, and every bit of the important pieces of the bill remained intact,” Ramsey said.