By now, many people know that here in Cobb County, the Board of Commissioners has taken commendable and decisive action to use the ultimate federal tool available to insure that the Human Resources Department under their control is not employing workers who are not eligible to work in the United States.
On its way to becoming certified by the feds as “IMAGE certified” the BOC has signed an agreement with the Immigration and Customs Enforcement agency to have its employment records audited to insure adherence to the law and have identity documents presented by employees at hiring validated.
The original idea for BOC IMAGE certification was offered by Commissioner Bob Ott as one of his goals for 2011. In February of last year, this newspaper reported on that fact and offered some quotes from Mr. Ott: “When you look at what Arizona and Georgia are trying to do, they’re up against the federal government fighting them. IMAGE is a federal government program, so there wouldn’t be any fighting because it’s already in place and it’s their program,” Ott said. “It’s good for Cobb because the people working in Cobb will be legal to work.”
Ott stressed that the initiative isn’t targeted at jailing illegals, but rather making sure Cobb jobs go to legal Cobb residents who need them. “It’s just about getting people back to work,” Ott said.
Mr. Ott “gets it.”
The goal of the 2006 IMAGE program is to curtail the employment of unauthorized workers through outreach, education and partnership. IMAGE certification requires use of the no-cost E-Verify program.
It was also Commissioner Ott who asked the BOC legal department to begin work on drafting language for an ordinance last month that would require all contractors who want to work on county projects or provide services to become IMAGE certified as well. Commissioner JoAnn Birrell showed her support for the quite logical intent by offering to be the “second” on putting the ordinance up for a vote. Mrs. Birrell, this writer’s district commissioner, supports the concept of IMAGE-certified contractors in Cobb.
It only takes three votes on the five-member board to pass an ordinance and it should be noted that the original vote to become IMAGE certified was bi-partisan and unanimous. There is little doubt that a vote on IMAGE-certified contractors would easily pass and zero doubt that Cobb voters with the common sense of a turnip would view the move as logical, ground-breaking, positive and courageous.
There is no other government agency in Georgia that is IMAGE-certified or uses IMAGE to protect taxpayers from unscrupulous contractors who use black-market labor. And that includes the Cobb County school board.
Why, readers may be asking doesn’t the BOC draw up and pass an ordinance next week saying that only IMAGE-certified contractors may offer a bid on county jobs after Jan. 1, 2014? Who would possibly object to exposing employees who used bogus or stolen ID documents when they were hired and purging these illegal workers from the payrolls of taxpayer funded contractors?
A hint: It was the U.S. Chamber of Commerce that filed lawsuits to stop the requirement that many federal contractors use the E-Verify database. (It was the U.S. Chamber that challenged Arizona’s 2007 E-Verify law, all the way to the U.S. Supreme Court — and lost.) It was the Georgia Chamber of Commerce — along with the ACLU — that put up the strongest opposition to the 2011 Georgia law (HB 87) that expanded the 2006 state requirement that public employers and their contractors use E-Verify to also include most private employers.
For an amusing cacophony of excuses and nonsense talking points against the BOC using only IMAGE-certified contractors, give the all-too-powerful Cobb Chamber of Commerce a call.
There is no added expense to becoming IMAGE-certified. State legislation is routinely written, vetted and passed into law in a three-month window. There is no regulation that the Cobb BOC must wait until next year to pass an ordinance. There is no legal reason that the BOC cannot require of contractors what it has already done itself.
There is no reason to wait until next year to take the ultimate step in putting Americans back to work in Cobb County, Ga. Let’s do it now. It’s a no brainer.
D.A. King is president of the Cobb-based Dustin Inman Society and a nationally recognized authority on illegal immigration. He has assisted Georgia legislators with illegal immigration legislation since 2006.