The Georgia Attorney General just issued his Secure and Verifiable Document List, as required under HB-87, Georgia’s Anti-Immigration Law. This list brings to mind the First Rule you need to know when a State passes an Anti-Immigration law. That rule is summarized in one word–“meaningless.” That’s right. The List, as written, is meaningless. The List changes NOTHING about Georgia law and how people can use documents in Georgia.
The main reason that Rep. Matt Ramsey wanted this part of HB 87 in place was to stop the use by Mexicans of a document known as a “Matricula Consular.” The Matricula Consular is a secure document, issued after a lengthy process of identification verification by the Mexican Consulate. It is certainly as secure as a Georgia Driver’s license. But, since it gave the impression, apparently, to Rep. Ramsey that people were using a Mexican ID documents to apply for benefits in the U.S. for their US Citizen children, he wanted it done away with, in the mistaken belief that by doing so, perhaps these U.S. Citizen children could be deprived of the benefits they were eligible for. Unfortunately, for Rep. Ramsey he did not do his homework before writing this provision, as Federal Law permits the use of a Matricula Consular and related foreign documents to verify identity for applications for certain purposes. Neither HB 87, nor the List can change that. So, a state law was never going to be permitted to stand that disallowed what the Federal Government permitted.
The Attorney General clearly realized the problem. This is no where more evident than in the last paragraph of The List, which states:
In addition to the documents listed herein, if, in administering a public benefit or program, an agency is required by federal law to accept a document for proof of or documentation of identity, that document will be deemed a secure and verifiable document solely for that particular program or administration of that particular public benefit.
So, the Matricula Consular, as I have been saying for months, is still usable to apply for Federal Benefits for U.S. Citizen Children, even benefits administered by the State of Georgia,as permitted by federal law!
Also interesting in the Attorney General’s list is the inclusion on the List of a Canadian Driver’s license, as well as the drivers licenses of ALL 50 states! So much for not recognizing the licenses of Washington and New Mexico.
What the Attorney General failed to include were the dozens of variations of documents issued by USCIS to verify a person’s immigration status and identification. We cannot expect the Attorney General of Georgia to be an immigration expert, but it is surprising that there was no attempt made to try to bring into the List, secure and verifiable immigration documents carried as the sole source of identification by thousands of people living in Georgia!
There must be much weeping and wailing of those anti-immigrants who wanted a limited List. the current List fails to effectively change anything about Georgia law. This List coupled with Judge Thrash’s order stopping the most egregious sections of HB 87 from being enforced means that Georgia law is effectively not changed as it pertains to people’s immigration status. HB 87 continues its march toward the dust heap of history as yet another bill passed by a state more concerned about the social effects of new immigrants rather than compliance with actual federal law.
Finally, let’s note that the Attorney General also turned out his “Report on Public Benefits” a lengthy tome that details all the public benefits available in Georgia to U.S. citizens and
qualified aliens”. Most of us who are conservatives will say WOW, I had no idea that so many programs existed, there is one thing lacking in this report. There is no indication that anyone who was not entitled any of these benefits actually got the benefit. No evidence that a person who is not a U.S. Citizen or qualified alien received benefits only intended for U.S. citizens and qualified aliens. Makes you wonder why, if there was no evidence of abuse of “public benefits” by non-qualified aliens, this law and report was even necessary.