Georgia’s New Immigration Law Mandates Electronic Government Verification For New Hires

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Amid threats of boycotts of Georgia goods and services, and while legal challenges to Arizona’s tough immigration law are headed to the Supreme Court, Governor Nathan Deal has signed into law Georgia’s own Arizona-style immigration law. The law gives law enforcement officers the right to check the immigration status of a suspect if (a) the officer has probable cause to believe the individual has committed a "criminal offense" and (b) the individual is unable to produce a valid ID. Police also may arrest such individuals and transport them to state and federal jails. The law also creates criminal penalties under state law for harboring undocumented aliens and makes it a felony to use fraudulent documents to obtain employment.

The law also imposes a new requirement for most Georgia businesses, mandating that every employer with eleven (11) or more employees use the federal E-Verify program for all new hires. E-Verify is an Internet-based system through which enrolled employers confirm the legal status of new hires by inputting information about their right-to-work documentation and identity. While all public employers and most private employers holding contracts with the State of Georgia already are required to use E-Verify, the new law extends the requirement to the vast majority of businesses in the state, including small businesses, farmers, restaurants, and every other type of business in the state. To renew or obtain a business license or other documents from the State, employers will be required to prove that they utilize E-Verify or provide evidence as to why the requirements of this new law do not apply to them.

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