IMAGE and Cobb — It’s time to set the record straight
by Helen Goreham
Columnist
February 17, 2013 12:32 AM | 1982 views | 14 14 comments | 10 10 recommendations | email to a friend | print
I’ve watched with fascination as the misperceptions of my position on the proposed IMAGE ordinance have continued to grow in the pages of the MDJ and other media over the past several weeks. I and some of my colleagues on the Board of Commissioners have been on the receiving end of many false accusations from a number of vocal, but poorly informed, members of the community.

It’s time to set the record straight.

Very few of the critics appear to understand what IMAGE (ICE Mutual Agreement between Government and Employers) actually is. To understand it, let’s first look at its forerunners.

The U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement agency (ICE) introduced the Immigration Reform and Control Act (IRCA) of 1986, which prohibits employers from knowingly hiring illegal workers. To comply with this law, employers must collect information regarding an employee’s identity and employment eligibility and document that information on ICE’s Form I-9. An employee must provide personal information on the form, such as name and date of birth, and then attach certain supporting documents. ICE periodically audits employer records and imposes severe penalties when they find the employer has been negligent in performing their obligations in this regard.

“While Form I-9 requires employers to collect information, in the early days of IRCA there was no way for employers to verify that the information employees provided was valid or that the documents presented were genuine — that is, until E-Verify. E-Verify is an online program that offers employers a powerful tool to help protect themselves against those who try to cheat the system. By adding E-Verify to the existing Form I-9 employment eligibility verification process, a company can benefit from the peace of mind of knowing that it maintains a legal workforce.” (From www.ice.gov/image)

Please note that proper processing of Form I-9 is required by federal law. E-Verify was not introduced as law, however, several states have since passed legislation to make its use a legal requirement. Georgia happens to be one of those states with laws requiring the use of E-Verify.

In the spirit of the above, Cobb County has incorporated strict Contractor Compliance requirements into all contracts, with severe punitive action to be taken against any contractor or its sub-contractors found in violation. No violations have been detected since this policy was implemented in 2010.

In 2006, ICE introduced the IMAGE program. IMAGE is not law. It is a voluntary partnership initiative between the federal government and private sector employers, designed to foster cooperative relationships and to strengthen overall hiring practices. IMAGE consists primarily of employer training classes, policies, procedures and internal audits, all per a 12-point list of “best employment practices” which can help improve the employer’s proficiency in processing Form I-9 information. ICE developed this initiative to induce employer self-compliance and to assist ICE in their enforcement program with the hope that employers will achieve a lawful workforce through self-policing of their hiring practices.

Since IMAGE is a voluntary partnership, ICE has offered a penalty abatement incentive to attract participation of employers.

Cobb’s Board of Commissioners is currently considering a new ordinance wherein the county will mandate IMAGE program certification by all companies who would like to perform work for us. Companies who have not applied for certification will not be eligible. We are scheduled to hold a final hearing on the proposal on Feb. 26.

I voted in favor of IMAGE in the summer of 2012 when Cobb County decided to participate in the program. I continue to support our IMAGE partnership and still believe that the 12-point “best employment practices” should eventually be adopted by most employers. However I am not in favor of an ordinance that mandates the program to companies that are already in compliance with state and federal laws. In essence, the proposed ordinance is declaring that all companies and vendors doing business with Cobb are guilty of hiring illegals until proven otherwise.

Instead of a mandate, I would like to propose a task force, consisting of staff, ICE, employers (WellStar, Lockheed, Home Depot, etc.) and (immigration activist) D.A. King, to evaluate the situation and recommend a practical course of action.

Finally, as a Republican, I am against bigger and more intrusive county government that would dictate how an employer runs its business. Rather, as a leading employer with IMAGE certification, the county should provide counsel and support to those who choose to move ahead with it in the future.

But, there is no way to justify the proposed ordinance now.

Helen Goreham represents northwest Cobb on the Cobb County Board of Commissioners.
Comments
(14)
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mk- to a tad
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February 19, 2013
Simply the truth, and the truth hurts.

Rape & under age sex is rampant in the less educated illegal culture.

I suspect there is a lot of turning a blind eye by childrens protective services in the illegal communities.

There is temptation when you have 6-10 men (uncles, brothers, cousins, friends) living under one roof, where there also might be 4 or 5 young children , also in the house.

Many times, just one bathroom & tight sleeping quarters.

This is how the 'cheap labor' is living.

It just the sad truth and it's a shame.
Devlin Adams
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February 18, 2013
Helen, about your "task force", who would decided who is on it? I can guess some of the members. David Connell, Rich Pelligrino, Jerry Gonzalez, C. W. Matthews' Human Resource Manager, and Timmy Lee, all lined up against D. A. King.

Come on, Helen. Get serious, This idea is even nuttier than your "reward for obeying the law". plan.

They are nothing but stalling techniques.
mk-for the children
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February 18, 2013
What I find disturbing is how the county officials seem to have no problem surrounding our elementary school children with all these illegal aliens that have come from who knows what backgrounds and previous criminal behavior.

Baldwin Paving did all the work around Sope Creek Elementary on Papermill and are now doing the road work for the new Smyrna Elementary. I stopped at an ongoing Baldwin Paving Company project to talk to the crew doing sidewalks in Smyrna, and all they could do is look at me with confusion and say, no, no.

NONE of the spoke english & I will guarantee ya they had just crossed the border illegally!!

Guess the children aren't as important as the profits made by these criminal companies.
a tad....
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February 18, 2013
sensationalist, don't you think?
anonymous
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February 19, 2013
Not sensationalist to this reader. This mk makes lots of sense and probably does more groundwork than commissioners, who wouldn't dare go to a job site lest their plausible deniability be shattered.

It's the part where Ms. Goreham says, ".....no violations HAVE BEEN DETECTED since 2010." Right. Hear no aliens, see no aliens, speak no aliens, right Ms. Goreham?
Pat H
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February 19, 2013
Exactly true, not sensational in the least. A lady in Roswell hired an illegal and he raped her neighbor's teenaged daughter. Who is being invited into our neighborhoods by people seeking cheap labor?

The age of consent in Mexico is 12 and illegals bring this culture here. Look at your children and decide if you believe they are able to consent at 12. Many Mexican illegals here in Georgia have been identified as molesters of children much younger.

No documents also means that we have no knowledge of criminal activities. Supporting these criminals is not proper use of tax funds.
Pat H
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February 17, 2013
Ms. Goreham, Cobb County contractors who won bids have already been proven to have committed a felony by knowingly hired illegal aliens, in fact some sub-contractors ONLY hired illegals. Were charges brought against Zebra? Have you removed them from the job site and refused to allow them to bid? Do you expect us to believe CW Matthews and its subcontractors are using E-Verify?

No, you attempt to provide cover to these contractors and the blood money they provide to those who chose to represent special interests instead of constituents.

I, too, will donate $1,000 to someone to run against Ms. Goreham and volunteer to help on the campaign. It is truly a shame that there was anyone in Cobb County who thought that Tim Lee was a better candidate than Mike Boyce. Hopefully, that will be rectified next election.

It is shameful that private industry has signed up for IMAGE and public funds are not protected.
anonymous
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February 17, 2013
"However I am not in favor of an ordinance that mandates the program to companies that are already in compliance with state and federal laws. In essence, the proposed ordinance is declaring that all companies and vendors doing business with Cobb are guilty of hiring illegals until proven otherwise."

And just how do you know they are in compliance?? ---because your friends in the contracting business told you so?

A task force is a good stall--keep things on ice while you wait to see what happens with the immigration reform out of DC where they really, really care about us in Cobb, eh??

anonymous
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February 17, 2013
Helen Goreham is not a bright person. Tis letter is so full of inaccuracies that it is almost funny. Helen is firmly doing what Tim Lee tells her to do. The contractors hire illegals to make more profit. Don’t expect that fact to change. And don’t expect to hear any outrage from the Republican establishment in Cobb County or Georgia over the certainty that tax money will continue to flow to well-funded “Friends-of-Tim” contractors who use black-market labor.
Marie in Marietta
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February 17, 2013
As the kids say: "OMG"!

Helen Goreham can't remember that they had to send the Sheriff's deputies to the construction site to check ID EVERY DAY the because there was no end to the fake ID illegals?

Helen, you really aren't fooling anyone. No kidding Helen. Even I know that the I-9 forms are paper and that fake SSN's are used lierally every day by illegaks to get jobs. Win or lose, DA has reaaly brought you out Helen.
Gordo Meis
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February 17, 2013
From here in west Cobb, let me apologize for Helen Goreham to the rest of the county. The fact it that she isn't too smart.

Helen. Setting the record straight would demand that you admit that you have finally gone to the IMAGE website and pasted some of it into a letter to the newspaper. And that you don't understand a word of what you pasted into your letter. Helen. ICE did not introduce anything to congress. Helen, ICE was not even in existence in 1986. Helen. We see your panic. You will be gone in the 2014 election. I hereby pledge $5000.00 to help that happen.

Not one word about the workers who are out of a job. HELEN, GET OUT!
mk-the truth
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February 17, 2013
The DOT, the contractors, engineers & chamber, demand illegal labor, and by golly, the commissioners are going to deliver!

As long as the East/West Cobbers see the subdivisions w/ $800's-$900's going up & are protected from the poverty that surrounds the illegal neighborhoods, (South Cobb, Smyrna, Austell, Powder Springs, Six Flags), then who really gives a flip.

Just this week, a piece of land on what SHOULD have been a HIGH VALUE corner in Smyrna,(East/West Connector & South Cobb), announced a dounut shop, taco stand & car parts store will be built.

Regarding this zoning, Bob Ott quoted -"sometimes compromises must be made".

Yes, for the rich to get richer, some cities must become poor havens or 'meccas', for the labor to reside!!

As long as the elite get richer, we don't care about south Cobb's poverty or how much money goes back to Mexico!

It's simply COMPROMISE!!

Isn't that how it works, Goreham?
RUKiddingUs
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February 17, 2013
A Republican? I don't think so! Voting to raise my taxes, my water rates, and pass budgets that transfer money. Nope, a Republican doesn't do that so don't try to fool us with your limited less intrusive government talk.

A Chamber maid, yep, look at who you want to have on your little task force, all the chamber cronies. Oh, but you want to include D.A. Nice try but we can see right through that one.

Finally, no violations since 2010. What has been built since then by the county? Nice try in obscuring the facts. Do you think we all have already forgotten about the courthouse? Not once but twice did the contractor's subs violate e-verify. So there haven't been any violations because there hasn't been any money.

Get serious and honest with us Helen. We've had enough of your chambermaid tactics and misstatements.
anonymous
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February 19, 2013
All illegal labor in the lengthy 2010 Acworth-Due West Road "widening" which maybe improved the curbs and built a few retaining walls. But those guys were straight out of the coyote's jam-packed trucks. They used to stare at me and my daughters as we waited in line to get into Due West Elementary. Literally stop shovelling to stare into our car, like they'd never seen little blond girls in their lives (probably had not). They were there for months, Helen. You HAD to see them each time you went to the CVS.
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