Many Georgia Small Businesses Must Now Use Federal Immigration Verification System

Jul 1, 2013

As of Monday, many Georgia small businesses have to use a Federal authorization program to make sure they are not hiring workers who are in the country illegally. 

WABE’s Denis O’Hayer takes a look.



Credit U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services

It’s something big businesses already have to do in Georgia.  But now, companies with more than 10 workers, but fewer than 100, must also use E-Verify, an online Federal program, to check the status of workers they are hiring.  The workers fill out a Federal form, and the employers run the E-Verify check using those forms.  The state requirement is part of

HB 87, the immigration law passed and signed in 2011.

The law’s supporters have long argued immigration enforcement should include a way to stop employers who try to hire workers who are in the country illegally.  Opponents have criticized E-Verify, saying it’s not accurate, and puts an unnecessary burden on employers.

Kyle Jackson, the Georgia State Director for the National Federation of Independent Business, said E-Verify has improved over time.  But he wondered if a system initially meant to be voluntary can process all the verifications produced by a growing movement for mandates.

“Georgia and other states have now mandated—Arizona, Alabama, I think South Carolina as well—have mandated employers use it," Jackson said.  "Is the system designed to handle that much work flow and information?   And the answer to that question I don’t know.”

Jackson also worried about fines for employers who accidentally violate the requirement, and whether the state has enough staff and resources to enforce it.  He’s also not sure all the employers who now have to use E-Verify even know about the law.  But he said E-Verify is the only tool available right now for state lawmakers who got tired of waiting for Congress to pass national immigration reform laws.