Fate of HB 228 could hang on “expert” testimony
With a note on Shevondah Leslie and DDS
In his long testimony to a legislative committee chock full of senior House members, Georgia Secretary of State General Counsel Ryan Germany passed on a remarkable amount of inaccurate and incomplete “facts” last Friday. From where this writer was sitting it appeared the assignment was to kill the measure at hand, HB 228.
The bill is aimed at voter ID integrity.
The hearing in the Special Committee on Election Integrity admittedly involved “in the weeds” details on immigration law. But it also dealt with Motor Voter registration, Georgia driving credentials, ID Cards given to U.S. citizens and foreign nationals and the security measures involved in the issuing process. In addition to Germany’s, the general lack of knowledge of many of the legislators was quite extraordinary.
Example? In a state where legislators endlessly seek to increase foreign labor, exactly who can obtain a Social Security number seems to be a deep and mysterious unknown.
From a transcript of the hearing on voter security and “proper identification” at the polls:
Committee member and Speaker Pro-Tem Jan Jones to Ryan: “So I guess follow up if you’re not a citizen, you wouldn’t have social security number?”
From the witness podium, Secretary of State General Counsel Germany: “Uh, I believe it’s possible to have a social if you’re not a citizen, but it’s, but it’s not, it’s not, um, a typical occurrence by any means.”
That’s not accurate Mr. Germany
The fact that Ryan Germany was put in a position to influence the outcome of pending legislation and apparently does not know his statement to the House Speaker Pro Tem is wildly wrong should be alarming to all concerned.
The reality is that foreign nationals aka “non-citizens” aka “aliens” can easily obtain a Social Security number. It is a very “typical occurrence.”
Virtually every legal immigrant (green card holder) in the U.S. – and we take in about a million every year – is given a Social Security number and they are under no obligation to ever become American citizens. Guest workers here on temporary visas are issued Social Security Numbers – more than 1.4 million guest workers in 2013 (for example). As is mentioned further down, about 600,000 illegal aliens have been issued Social Security numbers.
*In his testimony and a response to another question from Speaker Pro Tem Jones, SoS General Counsel Germany told her “So, um, that means that when, when they’re checking their status at DDS, when you’re checking either citizen or, you know, legal resident, um, because it’s non-legal residents cannot get driver’s licenses or IDs in Georgia.”
That’s not accurate, Mr. Germany.
For brevity here, let’s consider the more than twenty thousand illegal aliens who are beneficiaries of Barack Obama’s ‘Deferred Action on Deportation for Childhood Arrivals’ (DACA recipients) who have Georgia drivers licenses and/or official ID Cards – and Social Security numbers.
This is due to the fact that the REAL ID Act contains a section (MINIMUM DOCUMENT REQUIREMENT AND ISSUANCE STANDARDS… (Sec. 202, (2) (B) ) which says illegal aliens with deferred action on deportation (and other categories of administrative status) have “legal status” for purposes of drivers licenses and ID cards only. The status does not transfer out of that narrow regulation.
For example, these illegal aliens with DACA have Georgia drivers licenses and ID Cards but are not allowed instate tuition rates at USG/TCSG schools. While he is stone silent on the entire issue as governor, in 2018 even then-candidate Brian Kemp recognized that “illegal immigrants” with DACA do not qualify for the Hope scholarship. No Obamacare either. Why? Because they are, using the words of Ryan Germany, “non-legal residents.”
In a March, 2019 opinion the 11th circuit appellate court noted the obvious: “As DACA recipients, they simply were given a reprieve from potential removal; that does not mean they are in any way ‘lawfully present under the (INA) act.” Even the liberal AJC reported it.
We noted that decision in 2019 with observations on how public benefits are administered in Georgia.
Text of HB 228 as introduced here.
—>Update: October 18, 2021: Current version (committee substitute) of HB 228 here.
Bonus for General Counsel Ryan Germany and the Georgia legislature:
- Georgia’s Attorney General Chris Carr makes it clear that DACA recipients do not have legal status.
- From the Associated Press: “Some illegal immigrants can get Georgia driver’s licenses.”
It is very possible Mr. Germany lacks this knowledge. The committee considering HB 228 should not have similar gaps of information.
On the topic of REAL ID compliant credentials, Germany informed the committee considering DDS-issued credentials used as voter ID that “…since 2012, I believe (DDS) has only issued Real IDs for driver’s license or state ID.”
Not exactly, Mr. Germany.
As I type, I am looking at my own Georgia drivers license issued in January 2016. It is not REAL ID compliant. It has no gold star. What Germany omitted in his “expert” education to legislators in the HB228 hearing is the fact that if anyone obtains both an ID card and a DL DDS will only make one document REAL ID Act compliant – which is noted with a gold star in upper right corner.
It should be made clear – again – that the illegal aliens with Georgia-issued drivers licenses and ID Cards are given the same credentials as U.S. citizens with the exception of the words “LIMITED TERM” on top.
Here, we insert an April, 2019 news item from the liberal AJC: Georgia leads nation in motor voter registrations
“Amid heated battles over voting rights, Georgia has emerged as an unlikely national leader in automatic voter registration, according to a study this month by the Brennan Center for Justice. The study estimated that 94% more voters registered in Georgia than if the state hadn’t implemented automatic voter registration in September 2016.”
House Bill 228 is designed to make human and/or systemic error resulting in illegal voting much less possible. The bill closes a loophole in current law that does not prohibit foreign national’s drivers licenses and/or ID Cards from acceptance as “proper identification” at the Georgia’s polls. It clearly marks these documents with “BEARER NOT A U.S. CITIZEN – NOT VALID VOTER ID.”
The committee hearing HB 228 seemed to reject the multiple liberal media stories presented documenting foreign nationals being registered to vote through the Motor Voter system. But it was clear they hung on every word from General Counsel Ryan Germany.
That is accurate, Mr. Germany
It is not apparent that the committee realized one of Germany’s most important statements came in his answer to another question from Speaker Pro Tem Jan Jones. She asked “is it possible though for a non citizen, um, to accidentally be registered to vote, say at the county level, if they go to their county board registration to register that?”
“I wouldn’t say it’s impossible” was Germany’s reply.
That is accurate, Mr. Germany.
A parting note on DDS testimony at the same hearing
“A Georgia DL/ID is not proof of lawful status in the U.S. so it is important to note that an expired LIMITED-TERM card does not mean the person is in the country illegally.” – statement on the DDS website as of 2:25 PM March 2, 2021..
We are focused on testimony in committee from “experts” to legislators with apparent wide gaps in knowledge of immigration law and how secure credentials are issued in Georgia. It’s a good place for a quick note on the video testimony of Ms. Shevondah Leslie who is Georgia Department of Driver Services (DDS) Director of Governmental Affairs and Communications.
Space here does not allow extensive coverage, but Leslie effectively told committee members multiple times that everyone who is issued a Georgia drivers license and/or ID Card is “lawfully present.”
To repeat information offered above, the federal government – the source of immigration laws that decide status – tells us something quite different. So does a former federal immigration judge.
It is long past time that responsible lawmakers pay attention.
The U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) puts it a different way:
“Current law does not grant any legal status for the class of individuals who are current recipients of DACA. Recipients of DACA are currently unlawfully present in the U.S. with their removal deferred” – here.
Again, more than twenty thousand DACA recipients alone have Georgia drivers licenses and/or ID Cards. There are other categories of illegal aliens with state ID credentials.
In response to inquiries from past state legislators, DDS has revealed that the SAVE system does not confirm “lawful presence” for DACA recipients – but rather temporary employment authorization. That phrase notes that Obama gave these illegal aliens a work permit and an SSN. It does not in any way contradict the laws from congress as noted in the 11th circuit appellate court decision.
The problem with SAVE.
In response to questions on the non-citizen drivers licenses a DDS spox once told a news outlet
“DDS has not changed the policy regarding driver’s license and/or identification card issuance to non-citizens. Those non-citizens in Deferred Action Status are eligible for GA licenses and IDs per the Federal Dream Act (assuming that they meet all other GA licensing criteria). Here.
We hope that it does not come as news to readers here that the DREAM Act failed to pass in congress multiple times. There is no “federal DREAM Act.” You can read that one here.
A DDS liaison once assured a state legislator, in writing, “we don’t issue cards to illegal aliens.”
There is much more information available for lawmakers who want to make educated decisions on all matters immigration and “non-citizens.” That issue is crucial to HB 228 which is focused on clarifying and ease of recognition the ID we give to foreigners in Georgia.
For Georgians curious as to why there is a thunderclap of instant and powerful opposition to adding clarifying wording on credentials issued to foreign nationals, it should be noted that a very important goal of the Georgia Chamber of Commerce is more, not fewer foreign workers in “the number one state for business.” Any change in marking these documents is counter to the already announced goal from the business lobby at the leftist Georgia Budget and Policy Institute.– drivers licenses for all “immigrants” – legal or not. Election integrity comes behind that ambition for far too many obedient people in power in Georgia.
Like in California.
Note: A link to the official video record and transcript of the February 26, 2021 hearing can be accessed on the ImmigrationPoliticsGA website.
*Updated March 6, 11:13 PM. Corrected (deleted) a repeated paragraph typo concerning Ryan Germany response to Speaker Pro Team Jones on “…non-legal residents cannot get driver’s licenses or IDs in Georgia.” I regret the error. dak
Updated jan 5, 2022 to expand stated number of illegal aliens with SSNs.