Feds await Chatham’s participation in immigration check

Savannah Morning News

Feds await Chatham’s participation in immigration check

Posted: December 27, 2010 – 10:54pm  |  Updated: December 28, 2010 – 3:18am

By Eric Curl

Chatham County is listed as one of 25 Georgia counties that have not registered for a federally mandated program that verifies the legal status of non-U.S. citizens who apply for certain public benefits.

Chatham’s eligibility for state grants could be jeopardized if the requirement is not met, said Beth Brown, spokeswoman for the Association of County Commissioners of Georgia. The organization recently sent out a notice alerting member counties of the registration.

“We are continuing to push them to get it done,” Brown said.

On Friday, Assistant County Manager Pat Monahan said the county submitted its registration last week for the program known as the Systematic Alien Verification for Entitlements Program.

The county is waiting for confirmation from the Department of Homeland Security, which will make the registration official, Monahan said.

The county also filed a required report last week with the Georgia Department of Community Affairs that details the public benefits it has provided, which include the issuance of business licenses and alcohol permits. The report is due Jan. 1 after a law requiring such reports became effective last year.

The benefit verification program is separate from the federal E-Verify system – an Internet-based system that allows employers to determine employees’ eligibility to work in the United States. The county already participates in that program, Monahan said.

The authorization for states and counties to use the verification system occurred after the federal Illegal Immigration Reform and Immigrant Responsibility Act passed in 1996, although it is not clear when the system became operational, Brown said.

Cobb County was the first county to register for the program, when it submitted its registration in July 2007. Another 134 Georgia counties have registered since then or are pending registration.

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