Monday, January 9, 2012

HB 87 Complaint Against City of Atlanta

Complaint: Request for review and/or investigation by the Immigration Enforcement Review Board established by Section 20 of Georgia’s Illegal Immigration Reform and Enforcement Act of 2011 (HB87)

To: Members of the Georgia Immigration Enforcement Review Board

Chairman Ben Vinson, board members: Mr. Phil Kent, Mr. Shawn Hanley, Mayor Boyd Austin, Sheriff Mike Yeager, Commissioner Terry Clark, Mr. Robert Mumford
As a Georgia citizen and registered voter I, D.A. King, herein make a valid and lawful complaint concerning violation of Georgia law (50 -36-1) regarding the crime of illegal immigration as related to actions by elected and or appointed officials, public employees and public agencies in Georgia.
I have read and understand the language of OCGA 50-36-3 establishing the Immigration Enforcement Review Board and further understand that the board is authorized to review violations by public officials, employees and agencies ONLY for possible violation of OCGA 13-10-91 (related to use of the federal E-Verify database), OCGA 36-80-23 (related to sanctuary policies for illegal aliens) and OCGA 50-36-1 (requirements for verification of eligibility for Public Benefits).
I hereby attest that I am a legal resident of the state of Georgia and a registered voter in Georgia.
My address is: ****** Marietta, Ga. 30066
My Georgia voter Registration Number is ************
My complaint is directed at clear violations by City of Atlanta in Atlanta Mayor Kasim Reed and the Atlanta City Council members individually, and others.
I outline my complaint and request for investigation below.
I contend that the City of Atlanta is in violation of OCGA 50-36-1 in that it has in place a 2004 ordinance (04-0-0772) officially recognizing and accepting the Mexican government issued matricula consular “for purposes of establishing a positive identification” involving transactions and providing benefits and services which is direct conflict with state law.
In an attempt to prevent the illegal administration of Georgia’s public benefits and to reduce the drain on the shrinking state budget resulting from the crime of illegal immigration, OCGA 50-36-1 was modified in 2011 to require the presentation of at least one secure and verifiable ID document by applicants for many public benefits when those applicants swear to eligibility on a required affidavit. The law clearly refers to the definition of acceptable documents and also documents which are not acceptable, including the Mexican matricula consular, a form of ID needed only by individuals who are present in the United States in violation of American immigration laws. Legal residents possess legitimate forms of identification.
50-36-1 “(e) (For effective date, see note.) An agency or political subdivision providing or administering a public benefit shall require every applicant for such benefit to:
(1) Provide at least one secure and verifiable document, as defined in Code Section 50-36-2;”
Definition from: 50-36-2:(3) “Secure and verifiable document” means a document issued by a state or federal jurisdiction or recognized by the United States government and that is verifiable by federal or state law enforcement, intelligence, or homeland security agencies. Secure and verifiable document shall not mean a Matricula Consular de Alta Seguridad, matricula consular card, consular matriculation card, consular identification card, or similar identification card issued by a foreign government regardless of the holder’s immigration status. Only those documents approved and posted by the Attorney General pursuant to subsection (f) of this Code section shall be considered secure and verifiable documents.”
It is my educated opinion, one that is shared by the Office of Intelligence of the FBI, that the acceptance of the matricula consular ID presents a threat to national security.
I ask that all legal avenues be pursued to insure that the elected and appointed officials and all employees of the City of Atlanta cease official acceptance of the matricula consular and similar consulate issued ID documents immediately, revoke the city ordinance described herein and come into compliance with state law or be held accountable.
I attach a copy of the City of Atlanta ordinance in question as well as additional educational information below
Please feel free to contact me for any further information.
*PLEASE NOTE: I have searched the Website of the Department of Audits and Accounts for a Review Board compliant form. I have created my own form, as I am unable to locate any official complaint form for submission to the Review Board, established by state law effective 1 July, 2011.
Signed: D. A. KING
__________________ on 3 January, 2012

The law department of the city of Atlanta would look at the complaint and the ordinance to determine if acceptance of the MC identification is illegal under state immigration law, officials said.

U.S. District Judge Thomas Thrash said two provisions of the law — a requirement that law enforcement officers check the immigration status of people who can’t provide IDs, and punishments for anyone who harbors or transports anyone else illegally present in the country — unlawfully preempt federal statutes. He issued an injunction to prevent them from taking effect July 1, 2011.

But the rest of the law remains are in effect now, including phased-in requirements for businesses and local/state governments and agencies to check the immigration status of new hires, penalties of up to 15 years in prison and a $250,000 fine for people who use fake identification documents to get a job in Georgia, and requirements that anyone receiving public benefits such as food stamps provide a “secure and verifiable” ID document.

While there are a lot of issues buried within the depths of the text of HB 87, two disputes rise up that I feel demand quick analysis: a dispute by taxi drivers over the law regarding a knowing transportation section of the law, and a rather overblown dispute over agricultural hiring practices which (more liberal) news organizations are claiming could result in millions of dollars of wasted produce.

I: The Taxi Case
Georgia taxi drivers have filed suit against HB 87, arguing that a provision that makes knowing transportation of illegal immigrants a misdemeanor would “burden them with the responsibility of checking the immigration status of each and every one of their passengers.” This claim is almost assuredly false.

HB 87′s illegal-transportation provision states, in part, that:
[a] person who, (1) while committing another criminal offense, (2) knowingly and intentionally transports or moves an illegal alien in a motor vehicle for the purpose of furthering the illegal presence of the alien in the United States shall be guilty of the offense of transporting or moving an illegal alien. (emphasis and numbers added)
In essence, in order for a taxi driver to be convicted of this crime, the taxi driver must (1) be committing another criminal offense AND (2) knowingly and intentionally transport or move an illegal alien. Even without provision (1), the mens rea requirement of provision (2) protects taxi drivers, who would likely only know the citizenship of their passengers under extraordinary circumstances. Georgia taxi drivers need not even worry about some overzealous interpretation of the law tied to the concept of “willful blindness” — given that there are many non-English-speaking South 

American immigrants in Georgia, to presume a taxi driver has some form of constructive knowledge about his passenger based upon their ethnicity is ridiculous and racist. Perhaps worst yet, one wonders what crimes taxi drivers wish to be up to with immigrants in tow.

While there are many arguments to be made against HB 87 that deserve their day in court, this taxi case is not one of them. This is the kind of litigation summary judgments were made for.

II: The Agricultural Dispute
Georgia’s agricultural industry is also fighting HB 87 tooth-and-nail.
Not terribly surprisingly, Georgia’s agricultural industry hires and houses a lot of illegal aliens, and farmers aren’t terribly pleased that their illegal, sub-minimum-wage workers aren’t available:

Farmers say the Hispanic migrant workers they depend on to pick their fruits and vegetables are bypassing Georgia to work in other states. The workers are concerned they will be harassed or jailed here following the passage of HB 87, the farmers said.
In short, farmers are losing illegal immigrant labor, and they can’t afford to (or simply don’t want to) hire American citizens for minimum wage. As a result of this refusal, Georgia farmers are losing crops, and they are blaming HB 87.

A close examination of this alleged issue raises more questions about the farmers’ business practices than it does about HB 87. Considering HB 87 was passed in April and does not apply until July, why did farmers not prepare for this before they were forced to forgo picking crops? Are farmers actually implying that they should be given carte blanche to hire illegal aliens (in violation of federal law, no less) on the basis of sheer economic necessity? Is there any proof that police would harass or jail farm workers without some proof that they were illegal aliens? What are farmers currently paying these aliens and, more importantly, why can they not find American workers when the employment rate in Georgia is 9.8%?

I’ll confess, there is a plausible, albeit weak, argument to be made in the farmers’ defense. If we are to assume that police are wholly wanton and capricious with their powers, they could likely use the provisions of HB 87 to intimidate legal Latino workers with repeated citizenship checks. There are some people alleging that police tend to disproportionately target Latino workers when enforcing immigration laws. In this sense, one could argue that HB 87 is arguably legal on its face, but that it promotes de facto discrimination by police against Latinos working for Georgia farmers. The problem with this argument is simple: it not only requires police actually abuse the power (a highly subjective test, especially without evidence of police procedures and what evidence police work with in any given stop), but it also requires a showing that the law itself is more or less the cause of the discrimination. It seems unlikely that the ACLU (or any litigant, for that matter) would be able to prove that bad cops would be any less likely to harass Latinos workers were HB 87 not in existence.

Georgia farmers have been exploiting the lax enforcement of immigration policies for some time, and HB 87 is clearly a threat to their profits. While we all certainly like and benefit from cheap produce, law should not bend to the economic convenience of an industry, no matter how large and influential the industry is. If berries and corn cannot be grown as cheap as they are without illegal labor, then the price is unreasonably low, and it should be fixed.

III: In Conclusion
While this article may infer that HB 87 is entirely legal, I do not intend to make such a statement. As I mentioned in section I, there are many valid arguments to be made about various parts of HB 87, all of which deserve their day in court and in the political arena. Nonetheless, both in regards to the taxi complaints and the agricultural dispute, many claims against HB 87 are misinformed, misleading, or simply erroneous.

Kirk Sigmon

No comments:

Post a Comment