Even as the national debate over immigration reform rages, the Georgia state legislature has decided to act rather than wait for a federal solution. Recently, Governor Sonny Perdue signed into law one of the toughest immigration laws in the country.
The Georgia Security and Immigration Compliance Act will require new vigilance on the part of employers and will impose fines on those who knowingly hire undocumented workers. The sections that impact private employers are set to take effect on July 1, 2007. The law also includes new criminal penalties, which local district attorneys will handle.
If you haven’t been diligent about checking employee documentation, now’s the time to start. On the other hand, if you’ve been overly diligent, you may be charged with bias based on national origin or another protected category. Bottom line: Georgia employers will be walking a tightrope.
The state’s immigration law will require employers to participate in a federal work authorization program as well as a newly established Georgia Immigrant Worker Verification System. The state hasn’t drafted the regulations yet, but you can expect them in spring 2007. Until that time, you should comply with the federal law on employee verification. Be prepared to prove you’ve been diligent. That means carefully tracking all I-9 forms. Your subscription to Georgia Employment Law will keep you updated on the latest developments.
(To review the rules on I-9 compliance, go to the U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services’ web site at www.uscis.gov/graphics/services/employerinfo/index.htm.)