published Thursday, December 22nd, 2011

Overdue immigration measures

A series of commonsense measures to fight illegal immigration in Georgia will take effect Jan. 1.

The measures -- that Georgia legislators enacted last May -- promise to reduce the diversion of jobs to illegal aliens and to stem the provision of government benefits to those who are in the United States illegally.

Here are some of the basic provisions of the Georgia law:

n Starting Jan. 1, agencies that handle taxpayer-funded benefits will require that applicants for those benefits provide a valid document showing they are lawfully present in the country. (Frankly, it seems inconceivable that up to now, people have been able to obtain government benefits without providing such documentation.)

n Also after Jan. 1, employers with at least 500 employees will be required to use a quick, simple system -- called E-Verify -- to confirm that job applicants are lawfully eligible to work in the United States.

n On July 1, 2012, the mandatory use of E-Verify will expand to employers who have at least 100 employees, and it will expand again a year later -- on July 1, 2013 -- to companies that have more than 10 workers.

A few other provisions of Georgia's law unfortunately have been put on hold by a federal judge. But it is encouraging, nonetheless, that at least some parts of the law will be taking effect soon -- to the benefit of Georgia's taxpayers.

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