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Key component of Georgia's immigration law takes effect | News

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Key component of Georgia's immigration law takes effect

ATLANTA -- Just more than seven months after Governor Nathan Deal signed the Illegal Immigration Reform and Enforcement Act into law, one of its more contested components is taking effect.

Effective Sunday, Georgia businesses with 500 employees or more are required to check their employees using an online system called E-Verify. Workers must be U.S. citizens or otherwise authorized to work in the country in order to be hired.

The requirement takes place in phases. Starting July 1, businesses of 100 or more must use E-Verify. By January 2013, all businesses with more than 10 employees will be required to use the system. Those with 10 or fewer employees are exempt.

Verification is enforced by the Georgia Department of Audits and Accounts; the state auditor will take random audits of businesses. Employers are required to test all new employees, including temporary workers.

Some businesses, including government offices, have been using E-Verify for more than a year. Supporters say it removes the primary cause of illegal immigration: job access. But others are concerned that possible flaws in the system will mean U.S. citizens are wrongly targeted.

The online service is run by the Department of Homeland Security.