“To be clear, I am not in the camp that trusts Gov. Kemp on illegal immigration statements.”
May 10, 2021
Re: HB 34, HB 268, HB 395 – interstate compacts on professional licensing
Dear Georgia Republican state legislators,
The professional licensing compacts you voted for in the 2021 General Assembly are apparently now something of “an issue”. We hope our work from here is connected to your increased interest in and investigation of these bills and how they may effect illegal immigration in Georgia.
Interstate compacts are new to us. But along with other illegal immigration-related code sections I helped create, improve and defend, I have been working on OCGA 50-36 -1 since 2006.
I first noticed HB 34 on the morning of Feb 25 – just hours before it passed the House. After a quick but careful read of the lengthy bill, I sent out emails to several House members alerting them to possible problems the proposed compact may create with the existing eligibility verification system for public benefits. I also called and emailed the Speaker’s office. I confirmed receipt of my email.
I pasted the text of my original Feb. 25 email into the first blog post done on HB 34. I hope you have seen examples of my time consuming write-ups on these bills. I assure you this was not done out of boredom.
A House member who I have known for years followed up on my concerns in February. “…I went to legislative counsel on HB 34 and you were right, D.A…..” I wanted to be wrong.
I also became aware of HB 268 and shortly afterwards, HB395. I knew the Georgia Chamber of Commerce was pushing the compacts contained in this legislation and that these agreements could effect illegal immigration. There are no examples of the GA Chamber advocating on the side of immigration enforcement available to send you.
After the House passed all three of the bills, I sent notes to several members of the senate – including the Senate Majority Leader – asking for line numbers on language that would eliminate my fears that the interstate compacts would reduce security on immigration verification. The only response I received was from my own senator. There was no citation of language that would alleviate my fears. I also personally asked several interested Georgians to ask for the same information from their own senators. I have not talked to anyone who even received a reply.
I also learned about the GORRC and the involvement of the Georgia Secretary of State office in the council’s procedure in consideration of the compact legislation. I continued to pursue the hope that somebody in power would cite language I may have overlooked in the bills to remove my concerns that illegal aliens could access the professional licenses covered in the measures. I spoke to an official in the SoS office, sent a request for comment and information – and again asked for citation of a line number to language that would remove my fears. There was no response other than confirmation of receipt.
I now see a May 6, 2021 opinion letter from legislative counsel to a House member who apparently asked the same question another House member asked about HB 34 in February. This time the opinion is that the sentence “nothing herein prevents the enforcement of any other law of any member state that is not inconsistent with the Compact” represents language that preserves the current system of immigration verification.
I read the cited sentence several times in my review of the bills. I do not agree that it will automatically result in use of verification system – including the affidavit process – in processing applications for professional licenses from applicants with existing credentials from other states. But it is my fervent hope that the most recent opinion reflects how the new laws will actually be implemented.
I need to add that knowledge gained from nearly twenty years of studying illegal immigration and according to retired ICE agents, retired Border Patrol Agents and several Georgia sheriffs, a background check by law enforcement does not reveal illegal immigration status unless the alien has already been arrested and fingerprinted. And that hundreds of thousands of illegal aliens have valid Social Security numbers.
My interest in the bills also led me to legislation that put Georgia in an interstate compact on nursing licenses in 2017. (SB 109). I was not aware of that legislation at that time. We will soon know if if the verification system required in OCGA 50-36-1 has been followed in the reciprocal process of licensing nurses from other states since that law was put in place in 2017.
In closing, I respectfully extend my sincere thanks to Rep Chuck Martin for taking the time this month to investigate the effects the legislation may have on illegal immigration and the law requiring verification of ‘lawful presence’ for applicants for professional licenses.
In the recent past an expert on the issue who is willing to help legislators fight illegal immigration in Georgia was not automatically regarded with suspicion.
I respectfully put forth the hope that moving forward, Republican lawmakers ask how legislation may effect illegal immigration before they vote.
So there is no confusion on my message, two opposite opinions on this matter have come out of legislative counsel. I have seen Gov. Kemp’s *signing statements on the three bills.
UPDATE: I have also seen the letter from Reps Belton and Werkheiser to the House Republican caucus asking for help in convincing the governor to sign the bills.
We will follow up to see actual practice.
To be clear, I am not in the camp that trusts Gov. Kemp on illegal immigration statements.