Many thanks to Cobb GOP Chairman Joe Dendy for his kind permission for this permanently independent voter to take up space at the crowded Republican breakfast event last Saturday. As a reluctant denizen of the state Capitol, it was great to see so many of my friends and neighbors take an interest in their government.
A “what are the issues?” gathering, the morning was dedicated to more than an hour of exchanges between the Republican crowd and a large part of the Cobb GOP Statehouse delegation on what the looming General Assembly session should address.
I heard suggested topics like gun laws, taxes, transportation, voting security, mental health care and others that seemed to be mostly headline-driven.
But, it seemed that “Jobs! jobs! jobs!” was so “last year” a topic. I didn’t hear anything about unemployment. From anyone.
It is hard to decide if it is more fascinating that Georgia’s decades-long illegal immigration and illegal employment crisis was not a central issue for Founding Fathers-quoting state legislators — or that no one in the audience brought up the fact that Georgia contains more, ahem … “undocumented workers” than Arizona. We also have had recent unemployment rates of 8 percent to 9 percent and even higher for black and Hispanic Americans.
The estimate is that 7 percent of the Georgia workforce is made up of people who escaped capture by our Border Patrol Agents. Nobody suggested that “getting back to the Constitution” and “taking back our country” and “freedom and liberty” are elusive concepts as long as America’s antienforcement immigration policy is run by the powerful business lobby, ethnic-identity oriented liberal radicals and the illegal aliens themselves who angrily march in American streets demanding — and being promised — another amnesty. And the right to vote.
The state budget was a big issue, but not that fact that Georgia’s governor complained in 2011 that we spend at least $2.4 billion a year on illegal immigration. Or that he has now gone silent on the problem.
I predict this frog-in-the-pot mindset will change when (and if) my Republican neighbors realize that adding between 11 million and 20 million now illegal, low-wage, future Democrat biggovernment voters is not beneficial to advancing their patriotic, conservative agenda.
Nobody at the meeting brought up the fact that it has been discovered that for six years not one but two commissioners of the Georgia Department of Agriculture managed to ignore the state law passed in 2006 that requires all public employers to use the no-cost E-Verify system to help protect government jobs for legal workers. Nobody brought that up despite the frontpage Associated Press report on the Cobb & State section of this newspaper that morning.
Neither did many folks I spoke to seem to comprehend the brewing scandal right in their own Cobb County Commission backyard recently reported by the MDJ.
It goes like this: To his credit, last May, after a unanimous “Yes” vote by the Board to apply to the feds and about 18 months of processing and self-auditing of its past hiring records, Cobb Board of Commissioners Chairman Tim Lee publicly signed an agreement with the federal Immigration and Customs Enforcement agency for the BOC to become “IMAGE certified.” This was a result of a job-protection suggestion from Commissioner Bob Ott. Illegal aliens obtain jobs through fraudulent means by presenting false documents and stealing someone’s legal identity. To combat illegal employment, ICE created the no-cost Mutual Agreement between Government and Employers program in 2006. The program entails the federally certified and monitored use of the E-Verify database for newly hired employees.
But it also involves allowing ICE to inspect past hiring records to locate any phony or stolen ID documents used by all employees. The feds can detect the use of false Social Security numbers for example. Short explanation: IMAGE creates and protects jobs for legal workers by exposing illegal workers on any employers’ payroll. (I have posted a link to the official IMAGE website on my MDJ blog).
Before the primary election last July, Lee promised to “bring forward an addition to the county code that will require those doing business with Cobb to also enroll in the IMAGE program.”
The trouble is that Tim Lee now is hedging on his campaign promise and the wording of an ordinance sponsored in good faith by commissioners Ott and JoAnn Birrell came out of the commissioners’ legal department having nothing to do with requiring county contractors to be IMAGE compliant.
Quite surprised, Commissioner Ott has requested that the language of his ordinance get a do-over to actually do what he intends.
The IMAGE ordinance will be the topic of public hearings on January 22. The sound you may hear is the contractors’ lobby and the local Chamber of Commerce wailing “No!” to IMAGE.
Stay tuned for much more on this next week.
D.A. King is president of the Cobb-based Dustin Inman Society.