Controversial E-Verify law to go into effect Jan. 1


ATLANTA,None - The new year will bring changes to how some Georgia companies hire new employees -- a part of Georgia's new immigration law goes into effect Jan. 1. 

It requires businesses with more than 500 employees to use E-Verify, a federal database, to check a prospective hire's legal status to work in the United States.

"I do want to see as high compliance as possible," said Bob Griggs, an agent for companies looking to contract out the new part of the hiring process.

Griggs has been a proponent of E-Verify, saying that it would eliminate the main draw for illegal immigration -- employment.

"And if we eliminate that draw to the country, then the other problems associated with it, the costs to government, the costs of public services and so on, will begin to decrease and solve themselves," he said.

Griggs argues illegal immigrants are a drain on public services, including schools, hospitals and jails.

On the other end of the spectrum, Adelina Nicholls, who hosts a radio program for the Georgia Latino Alliance for Human Rights, says she's hearing fear and concern over use of the database.

"You are losing a lot of resources that ... these workers are contributing into your business," she said.

She says the federal database contains errors that might make it hard even for legal residents to gain employment. 

And, in cases where a worker is undocumented, she says it would prevent them from being able to support children who were born here, and are therefore citizens.

"We are part of the economy of the state," Nicholls said.  "Immigrant communities are great contributors to the state's economy, to the nation's economy."

Griggs disagrees, and noted that the process does contain an appeal process for any possible errors.

Supporters and opponents of the measure are locked in a court battle over the more controversial parts of the state's new law, HB 87.

As for E-Verify, smaller businesses will be phased in. The law requires that companies with more than 10 employees use the database by July 2013.