Georgia's unchecked Immigration Enforcement Review Board

The Immigration Enforcement Review Board (IERB) in Georgia heard 14 complaints made by anti-immigrant activist D.A. King at its most recent hearing on February 28, 2018.

The Board is tasked with reviewing and investigating complaints “related to illegal immigration” and is given authority to take corrective action. Since its creation in 2011, the IERB has received 34 complaints, over 30 of which were made by King. Just one complaint has resulted in a sanction since the Board’s inception.

King, who founded the anti-immigrant hate group Dustin Inman Society (DIS) in 2003, has an intimate relationship with both state legislators and white nationalists in Georgia, and played an important role in creating the IERB.

History of the IERB

In 2011, Republican Representative Matt Ramsey authored HB 87, one of the most contentious immigration bills in Georgia. King was quick to assert he helped write HB 87 which allows law enforcement to stop and ask for identification from anyone they consider to be “suspicious” and made it illegal for any person to “harbor” undocumented immigrants. (This provision was struck down in 2012 in Georgia Latino Alliance for Human Rights v. Deal 2012).  The bill additionally makes E-Verify mandatory for businesses with over 10 employees and makes it illegal to use false information when applying for a job.

Ramsey told the Atlanta Journal Constitution that King is a “staunch advocate for enforcement of immigration laws,” who supported HB 87, which in turn created the Immigration Enforcement Review Board in 2011.

Ties to white nationalists

King, who pleaded guilty to a charge of interstate gambling in 1977, takes issue with “criminal illegal aliens” who he has termed “crimigrants.”

In addition to English-Only legislation, the DIS and King advocate for “attrition through enforcement,” a concept first popularized by the anti-immigrant hate group Center for Immigration Studies (CIS). “Federal immigration authorities must also enforce the law so undocumented immigrants won’t come and won’t stay,” he explains.

In 2007, DIS accepted $5,000 from U.S. Inc, John Tanton’s foundation. Tanton is a Michigan opthamologist turned white nationalist who has created a network of anti-immigrant organizations. One organization, Californians for Population Stabilization (CAPS) lists D.A. King as one its senior writing fellows. Another, the Federation for American Immigration Reform (FAIR), an SPLC-designated hate group, previously listed D.A. King as a state contact. Roy Beck, the head of NumbersUSA, another anti-immigrant organization created in Tanton’s network, holds regular “strategy calls” with King. Beck once said, "I can't think of anybody in my 20 years of working on this issue who has been more adroit in working inside the state Legislature to get legislation actually passed ... He's just kind of at the top of the heap nationwide in terms of local activists." King also regularly cites the work of the CIS and uses their terminology such as “attrition through enforcement.”

King has written for the white nationalist, SPLC-designated hate group, VDARE, an organization “dedicated to preserving our historical unity as Americans into the 21st century.”

"For me, while standing a few feet away from group after group, the impulse to reach out and personally deport these Third World invaders was nearly uncontrollable" King wrote in a June 2006 VDARE article. In September 2006, King sought to distance himself from the white nationalist, anti-immigrant organization and asked the site to remove his name from the editorial collective but keep an archive of his previous articles.

Fred Elbel, who sits on the board of the Dustin Inman Society and serves as websmater once said in an email:

Damned right. I hate ‘em all – negroes, wasps, spics, eskimos, jews, honkies, krauts, ruskies, ethopians, pakis, hunkies, pollocks and marxists; there are way too many of them. I’m all for trout, elephants, bacteria, whales, wolves, birds, parrot fish, deciduous foliage and mollusks. Time to rebalance the planet, bleeding heart liberals be damned.

Both Elbel and King have written for Tanton’s Social Contract Journal. King also spoke at the 2008 Social Contract Press Writers Workshop.

Among other appointees by Governor Nathan Deal and Speaker David Ralston, was Phil Kent, friend of D.A. King, author on DIS’s blog and spokesperson for anti-immigrant hate group Americans for Immigration Control. Kent’s articles have run in the nativist publication Middle American News, and even in the Citizens Informer, the tabloid of the white nationalist group Council of Conservative Citizens (CCC). Dylann Roof, the Charleston shooter, claimed the CCC was his gateway into white nationalism. Kent defended the group in a 1999 piece describing the CCC as a good conservative group that had been “targeted for demonization by the political leadership of the Left and its media allies.”

Complaints and cost to the state

King has essentially created a personal public investigative agency. Recent complaints by King include elementary schools providing English language classes for parents of students without checking immigration status. One complaint, from May 2017, alleged Marietta City Schools engaged the services of La Amistad, a community based non-profit working to empower Latino community members, without getting the E-Verification number or statement they were in compliance with E-Verify. Marietta schools stipulated that they required written assurances La Amistad complied with the system. The City also has the E-Verify number on record. Such frivoluous complaints cost the state and district in question time and money. 

SPLC’s Immigrant Justice Project explained in a 2012 letter cosigned by the National Immigration Law Center (NILC) and the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU),

The Board’s proposed subpoena power allows for invasion of individuals’ privacy by a non-judicial, non-elected body that can compel attendance and testimony based solely on the request of a private citizen under the unclear standard of”good cause shown.” This can allow for personal agendas to result in subpoenas.

The IERB presents a large cost to the state of Georgia as every county or city in which a complaint is filed is immediately subject to a subpoena which cannot be appealed. Hatewatch spoke with Lucy Sheftall, the Assistant City Attorney in Columbus, Georgia, who was on the receiving end of a complaint made by D.A. King in 2013. King alleged Columbus was  not properly using the federal SAVE program (Systemtic Alien Verification for Entitements Program) in administering benefits in 2010 and 2011. The city not only showed that it was in compliance but it also illustrated “significant procedural definiciences in the Complaint.” Among other issues, Columbus asserted King’s complaint did not meet the requirements for substantive review by the Board. IERB Rule 291-2-01(3)(c) states the complaint must contain “suffiecient facts concerning the alleged violation or failure to enforce the elgibility status provision….” Columbus concludes, King did not make a complaint based on facts and, in accordance with the afformentioned rule, the burden is on the party filing the complain to show “sufficient facts concerning the alleged violation.”  

The complaint was dismissed, but Sheftall maintains it took over 40 hours in attorney fees and six to nine months to handle the accusation.

Tom Edwards, deputy legislative director of the Association County Commissioners of Georgia, said, “The bill’s original language authorized aggrieved parties to sue and have their complaints, even meritless ones, litigated in courts of law…. and what should be concerning, is the legislation had no means by which counties could recoup attorney’s fees and legal costs for meritless suits.”

Board Member Shawn Hanley also pointed to this issue at the last meeting.Some of these complaints are pretty loose. Small counties pay a lot of money to defend against what could be frivolous complaints. I don’t think any of these complaints are frivolous but some of them are pretty close. We take complaints seriously and also take seriously protecting tax payer dollars…” However, Kent responded, “We don’t need to do anything about it, we can dismiss complaints.

The Board will meet again on March 15 to discuss five complaints that were not heard at the last meeting.