The tea party board discussed the topic for about an hour and a half in the home of board chairman J.D. Van Brink in Acworth.
Following the vote, Van Brink explained why the board was unanimously supporting the ordinance proposed by commissioners JoAnn Birrell and Bob Ott that the Cobb Board of Commissioners is expected to consider on Feb. 26.
“If you do a cost-benefit analysis on it, the costs of illegal immigration are far outweighing the benefits, Van Brink said. “Plus, as we discussed tonight, the rule of law, this is of paramount importance to the Georgia Tea Party. We follow the rule of law.”
There is also the human cost of illegal immigration, Van Brink said, referring to the comments made by the parents of the late Dustin Inman at last month’s Board of Commissioners meeting.
Billy and Kathy Inman of Woodstock, the parents of Dustin, a 16-year-old boy killed in a traffic accident in 2000 by illegal immigrant Gonzalo Harrell-Gonzalez, urged the board to approve the code change, saying it would discourage illegal immigrants from being employed by the county.
“Anyone not moved by hearing that is heartless,” Van Brink said. “So the rule of law, cost benefit analysis, and the human cost, this was the right thing to do. We would urge that the county commission in Cobb to support IMAGE also. This is a very, very reasonable step in the right direction, so that’s why we support it.”
Tea party board member Larry Savage of east Cobb said U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement has the power to audit any business it wants anyway to check for illegal immigrants. So why not work with ICE on the front end, he asked.
“Under IMAGE you’re a voluntary participant, you are given certain relief from sanctions because of that, and plus you have the opportunity to get help and understand how to do your internal audit, you can self audit, and you have the opportunity to clean things up before ICE ever comes in,” Savage said.
According to the ICE website, the federal agency will waive potential fines if substantive violations are discovered on fewer than 50 percent of the required I-9 hiring records. For instances in which more than 50 percent of the I-9 hiring records contain substantive violations, ICE will mitigate fines or issue fines at the statutory minimum of $110 per violation. ICE will also provide information and training before, during and after inspection.
“You won’t be surprised and caught unaware by an unexpected ICE audit,” Savage said. “If you don’t participate, you may find that you have ICE coming in for an audit someday anyway, and you have no protection from sanctions, and whatever they find is likely to lead to a sanction, so it would make sense to me that you face the inevitable, that you’re going to get audited someday, and you should go ahead and volunteer and give yourself the protection and head start to get it done at your pace instead of theirs.”
IMAGE stands for U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement Mutual Agreement between Government and Employers. ICE developed the initiative as a way for employers to achieve a “lawful workforce” through self-policing of their hiring practices.