The Georgia General Assembly passed a law last year requiring all municipalities and counties in the state to participate in the Systemic Alien Verification for Entitlements (SAVE) program, which is part of the Department of Homeland Security's U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services division.
The city council unanimously passed an ordinance to participate in the program at their meeting Wednesday night, but not without some protest.
"I appreciate ‘big brother' setting in and giving us more work to do," said Councilman Marty Jones. "The people that write the regulation don't have to live by them."
Under the new law, anyone doing business with the city, such as taking out a business license or receiving a city contract, and anyone receiving benefits from the city will have to swear in a notarized affidavit to their U.S. citizenship or their legal residency status. Anyone who is not sworn to be a U.S. citizen will have their status verified through the SAVE program.
The verification must be run each time a person who is not a U.S. citizen applies for benefits or does business with the city, even if their status has been verified before, because it could have changed in the passing time period, said city attorney Mike Waldrop.
The city will pay the cost of running the verifications, which should be minimal per application, according to city Director of Human Resources Dee Buggay.
Conyers currently verifies immigration status for employees but not for everyone doing business with the city.