Immigration status to be checked
Officials begin to review people applying for business licenses

LAWRENCEVILLE - Gwinnett officials this week began checking the immigration status of people applying for an occupation tax certificate, which is commonly referred to as a business license.

The standard puts the county in compliance with a state law passed in 2006.

"I'm elated," said D.A. King of the Dustin Inman Society, who lobbied for the Georgia Security and Immigration Compliance Act and has pushed for its application for years.

He said the move makes Gwinnett the third county in Georgia to correctly apply the law.

"I think it will serve as a tax savings. People who have no right to be here will go home," he said.

Officials said the Systematic Alien Verification for Entitlements program, operated by the federal Department of Homeland Security, is already in place for applicants for housing assistance. And the federal E-Verify system has been used since July 2007 to verify the immigration status of applicants for jobs at the county and its primary contractors and subcontractors.

Officials began Monday requiring all sole owner and sole-member limited liability corporation applicants to sign an affidavit either as a U.S. citizen or legal permanent resident or as a qualified alien or nonimmigrant. The second affidavit triggers verification through the SAVE program.

"We've been a leader in the state in using these verification systems, and I feel strongly that tax dollars should be administered according to the full spirit and intent of the law," Chairman Charles Bannister said.

According to a press release, the county will pay a 50 cent fee per SAVE transaction beginning Oct. 1, and the Licensing and Revenue Board of Appeals will review denied occupation tax certificate applications upon request.