Atlanta - One of the more controversial bills to pass during this year's legislative session takes effect today. But while Senate Bill 160 expands Georgia's crackdown on illegal immigration, it will also make the work of one state agency more efficient.
Secretary of State Brian Kemp tells WSB’s Sandra Parrish those seeking the renewal of professional licenses will now only to have to show secure and verifiable documentation one time as opposed to every two years.
“For us, that’s just going to be huge,” he says. “Right now we’re just literally consumed by the number of applications that we’re having to manually go through.”
But he says it could take the next two years for his office, which licenses a half million professionals, to begin realizing those benefits.
The backlog in his office was the result of immigration reform passed by state lawmakers in 2011 that required proof of citizenship in order to receive certain public benefits.
The new law now prohibits undocumented residents from receiving driver’s licenses, public housing, grants, and retirement benefits. It also only allows foreign passports to be used as verifiable documentation if accompanied by paperwork that indicates the person is in the country legally.
All city, county, and state government agencies will now have to require all contractors including sub-contractors to use the free E-Verify online program. Those government agencies with fewer than two employees had been exempt from the requirement.