Awaiting the signature of Governor Nathan Deal to become final, Georgia’s Illegal Immigration Reform and Enforcement Act of 2011 (commonly referred to as HB 87) will require private (non-government) employers with 500 or more employees to begin using E-Verify to check the employment authorization of newly-hired employees by January 1, 2012. The effective date will be extended for employers with fewer employees (July 1, 2012 for employers with 100 or more employees and July 1, 2013 for employers with 11 or more employees).

E-Verify is an Internet-based system operated by U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services that allows employers to verify the employment eligibility of employees. E-Verify checks employee-provided Form I-9 information against records contained in databases maintained by the Department of Homeland Security and Social Security Administration. Pursuant to the federal enabling legislation, E-Verify is voluntary for employers. However, a Presidential Executive Order makes E-Verify mandatory for certain federal contractors. Likewise, several state and local government contractors are required to use E-Verify either by legislation or a governor’s executive order. Several states (e.g., Arizona, Mississippi) have passed laws requiring all employers to use E-Verify.

Less relevant to employers but perhaps more controversial, HB 87 also contains provisions relating to peace officers having authority to verify the immigration status of persons investigated for a possible violation of any state or federal criminal law. These provisions are similar to Arizona’s other controversial law, the Support Our Law Enforcement and Safe Neighborhoods Act (also known as SB 1070), which compels law enforcement officers to verify the legal status of certain persons reasonably believed to be illegally present in the country. Enforcement of several of SB 1070’s provisions has been prevented on constitutional grounds by a district court injunction (see the July 2010 issue of the Immigration eAuthority) which was upheld in early April by the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals.

For more information on the new Georgia legislation, see the April 20, 2011 issue of the Georgia eAuthority.

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