breaking news

Congress slides into a government shutdown

Atlanta fined $1,000 for violating Georgia immigration law

Georgia’s Immigration Enforcement Review Board this week issued its first fine, imposing a $1,000 penalty against Atlanta for violating a state law for verifying the lawful presence of people applying for public benefits. 

At issue is a Georgia statute that says government agencies that administer public benefits must require applicants to submit affidavits verifying they are legally present in the U.S. Those agencies are required to screen noncitizen applicants using the federal Systematic Alien Verification of Entitlements program, or SAVE. 

Filed in August of 2016 by anti-illegal immigration activist D.A. King, the complaint alleged Atlanta did not use the SAVE program while renewing the Atlanta Historical Society’s nonprofit business license. The board notified Atlanta about the penalty in a letter this week. 

In a May 18 response to the complaint, the city said it approved the Atlanta Historical Society’s initial business license before the state’s SAVE requirement took effect. City officials argued the complaint about the license renewal became moot after they requested and received a SAVE affidavit from the Atlanta Historical Society on May 10. They said they have done the same thing for all “similarly situated nonprofit entities.” 

“The city is disappointed with the board's decision because the city complied with the spirit and letter of the law, and took remedial steps at the board's request,” Jenna Garland, a spokeswoman for Mayor Kasim Reed, said in a prepared statement. “The city is reviewing the decision and considering its options.” 

RELATED: Enforcement of Georgia’s immigration law will vary

IN-DEPTH: Large police agencies aren’t enforcing state immigration law

Phil Kent, a member of the Immigration Enforcement Review Board, issued a statement Friday about the board’s 4-2 decision. 

"Last year D.A. King filed a complaint to the IERB against the city of Atlanta because it refused to protect public benefits according to state law,” he said. "The IERB voted to agree with King that Atlanta was in violation — so the $1,000 fine speaks for itself." 

King is president of the Georgia-based Dustin Inman Society, which advocates enforcement of U.S. immigration and employment laws. In all, King has filed 18 of the 19 complaints the board has received since it was formed following the 2011 passage of House Bill 87, Georgia’s comprehensive anti-illegal immigration law, according to the Georgia Department of Audits and Accounts. 

This is not the first time King has set his sights on the city. In 2012, he alleged Atlanta violated state law by allowing people to use Mexican matricula consular ID cards in city government transactions. Georgia law says city officials may not accept the cards when people apply for public benefits. Atlanta officials asked the state board to dismiss the complaint after the City Council repealed an ordinance at the heart of the dispute.

Reader Comments ...

Next Up in Local

At Issue: Should all schools offer distance learning during snow days?
At Issue: Should all schools offer distance learning during snow days?

As children many of us recall watching the evening news or listening to the morning weather radio reports to find out if the white flakes wafting from the sky would cause officials to close school for the day. One or two days were a dream, but an entire week brought about severe cabin fever from being away from structure and near-amnesia when we return...
Sunday Conversation with D. Gordon Draves
Sunday Conversation with D. Gordon Draves

A scare with traffic kept D. Gordon Draves off of his bicycle for 25 years. Learning about his ancestors got him back on. For the past three summers, the 71-year-old East Point resident has embarked on ambitious bike trips in the hopes of learning about his family’s history. Even places that didn’t turn up much in the way of documentation...
Community Voices: Bringing the arts to downtown Woodstock

“After their marriage, Mama and Papa built their home in Woodstock. Papa went into ‘store keeping’ and Mama began her life of raising eight children over a 20-year period. They built a house off Main Street in town. … The home that they had built had two bedrooms and was not more than a city block from downtown Woodstock. It...
Is Atlanta really a contender for Amazon HQ?
Is Atlanta really a contender for Amazon HQ?

If metro Atlanta wins Amazon’s second headquarters and its promise of 50,000 jobs, it likely will be on the strength of its workforce, globally connected airport, ease of doing business and the capacity of Georgia Tech and other research universities to pump out talent. But the Atlanta area will have to tangle with Boston, Chicago and Los Angeles...
Peace be with you, but no touching: Flu season alters mass in this state
Peace be with you, but no touching: Flu season alters mass in this state

Widespread influenza across Maine has prompted the Roman Catholic Diocese of Portland to alter some traditions to keep parishioners healthy. The diocese announced Thursday that it's suspending the sharing of consecrated wine during communion and holding hands during the Lord's Prayer. The diocese is also discouraging parishioners from shaking hands...
More Stories