Brian Kemp links Georgia Archives closing to illegal immigration bill

Because Georgia felt it necessary to seal off its borders from illegal immigrants, your access to state history will soon be sealed off, too.

That’s not my conclusion.

That was the connection drawn Wednesday by Secretary of State Brian Kemp as he explained why he decided to lay off seven archivists and close – except by Saturday appointment – the place where Georgia’s most treasured documents are kept.

Response to Kemp’s decision has been surprisingly strong. Minutes after our chat, 100 or librarians, archivists, historians and genealogists descended on the state Capitol in protest. Some called for his impeachment. My AJC colleague Kristina Torres has the details here.

While he has cited budget pressures created by the Great Recession, Kemp has never before pointed to the state’s efforts to combat illegal immigration as a factor in his decision to close the Georgia Archives.

The secretary of state is no fan of illegal immigration. He has no quarrel with state lawmakers who in 2011 passed HB 87, the measure intended to drive illegal immigrants back whence they came.

Except for one unintended consequence.

Farmers quickly pointed out one blind spot in HB 87. Millions of dollars in crops rotted in the fields in the months after the measure’s passage, as Georgia’s underground labor force went deeper underground, or fled to friendlier states.

Kemp has another one in mind. As HB 87 made its way through the Capitol, lawmakers motivated by a belief that illegal immigrants were tapping into Georgia’s social welfare system insisted that the spigot be turned off completely.

HB 87 declared that anyone who received a taxpayer-paid public benefit would be required to prove legal residency. That applies to food stamps, in-state college tuition, and public housing.

It also applies to 479,000 professional licenses that must be granted, then renewed every other year, by Kemp’s office. Accountants, wastewater treatment operators, dentists, nurses, barbers, cosmetologists, and engineers. Musical therapists – there are perhaps 100 in Georgia — were just added to the list of licensed occupations by the Legislature this year.

All must mail, fax, hand-deliver or email photocopies of their drivers licenses, passports, or government-issued IDs to Kemp, whose employees must inspect the paperwork to make sure that no refugee from Mexico or Guatemala is using Mozart to help some 6-year-old get past a stutter.

“You have to check a secure and verifiable document,” Kemp said.

License renewals, a process that once took two days, now take 10. The amount of time that phone callers wait on hold has grown threefold. Kemp’s call center received 459,000 phone calls last year. It could only answer 329,000.

“The way the law is written – first of all, it’s costing us a lot of work to do that,” Kemp said. “It’s taken automated, streamlined processes that we put in place to try to help with all these budget cuts over the last several years – and now made them bureaucratic again.”

That portion of government has not been made smaller, he admitted.

When Gov. Nathan Deal ordered the latest round of budget cuts – 3 percent, or $733,000 from the secretary of state’s office – Kemp said his options were already limited.

An agreement with the U.S. Justice Department prevented further cuts in his division that oversees state elections. Extra duties imposed by the Dodd-Frank Act sealed off cuts to his securities division.

The workload explosion in his licensing division caused by HB 87 prevented any further cuts in that $7 million-a-year operation – which had 126 employees in 2008, and now has 87.
Besides, licensing fees generate $24 million a year for the state. The money goes into the general fund.

And so Kemp focused on the small corner of his realm that holds the Georgia Archives. “I just didn’t have any other good choices,” the secretary of state said. “It’s not to going to be ideal.”

Both Kemp and Deal say they’ll attempt to find a solution by January, when the Legislature reconvenes, to recreate regular operating hours. But those seven archivists whose employment ends Oct. 31 are out of luck.

Kemp said he will also seek from the Legislature the same change to HB 87 that he asked for this year. That would require nearly half a million Georgia professionals to prove their citizenship only when seeking a license for the first time.

No longer would that hair stylist in Hahira or the accountant in Marietta be required to prove her citizenship every other year.

Which would require the state to spend less money on securing its borders, and allow it — perhaps — to spend more on securing its history.

“This is not about the actions that the Legislature took on the immigration bill,” Kemp said. “I’m not being critical of that. This is just fixing an unintended consequence that made a streamlined system bureaucratic.”

- By Jim Galloway, Political Insider

For instant updates, follow me on Twitter, or connect with me on Facebook.

39 comments Add your comment

Just Nasty & Mean

October 4th, 2012
7:20 am

Jim, how come you are not talking about the thumping and old fashioned a$$-whooping Obama took last night?


October 4th, 2012
7:58 am

I never thought we Georgians would elect a more corrupt and incompetent Secretary of State than karen handel, but the proof is overwhelming.


October 4th, 2012
7:59 am

“This is not about the actions that the Legislature took on the immigration bill,” Kemp said. “I’m not being critical of that. This is just fixing an unintended consequence that made a streamlined system bureaucratic.”

The solution seems rather obvious. But then the “unintended consequence” seemed rather obvious from the beginning. The result is more and bigger government.

I agree with Nasty that I am surprised that the topic is not the debate. Major news out of the debate. To quote Romney: “My — my number-one principal is, there will be no tax cut that adds to the deficit. I want to underline that: no tax cut that adds to the deficit.”

So either there will be no tax cuts or, if there are , they will be paid for. A major improvement over the past 31 years when no tax cuts have been paid for and we ended up borrowing the missed revenue.

delmar Jackson

October 4th, 2012
8:11 am

WOW! One more story that mentions crops rotting in fields after illegal immigrants are gone, and the reporter does not add that the millionaire farmer could gave supplied himself with an unlimited amount of legal temporary foreign farm labor via the H-2A visa program but preferred to hire illegal workers at slave wages from crooked labor contractors.. We need illegal immigrants to start doing the news reporting that our citizen reporters are too lazy to do.

Auntie Christ

October 4th, 2012
8:33 am

Jim, how come you are not talking about the thumping and old fashioned a$$-whooping Obama took last night?

That’s right! There has been hardly any coverage of the debate for JN&M to read about, or listen to or watch recaps of. It is not enough that every media outlet in the country will rehash and parse every word the candidates spoke all day today and well into the evening, coverage will not be complete until Jim Galloway writes a blurb about it. But even then the ‘victims’ of the mean ole librul media will fill the pages with their whiney, little girly weepies because he didn’t portray Obama as the anti-Christ and praise romney as the second coming. JN&M is just pining for wingfield, and won’t be satisfied until he can once again suckle at the teat of kyle’s right wing agitprop.

Look before I leap...

October 4th, 2012
9:02 am

Even the US State Department does not require me to re-submit my birth certificate when renewing my passport. I simply enclose an updated picture, my soon to be expired passport and a check and voila, 3-4 weeks later, a shiny new passport.


October 4th, 2012
9:05 am

There’s not a lot of crops rotting in the fields in Dalton – no crops in site – just another round of tax increases on those unfortunate enough to live there. Someone has to pay to school the progeny of the tens of thousands(literally), of prolific, uneducated indigents, who contribute virtually nothing to the tax base. They aren’t leaving. HB 87 had absolutely no impact on Dalton – it’s business as usual.


October 4th, 2012
9:14 am

Interesting but a convenient cop out. It appears our governor is the kind of politician who is going after what he believes to be the least politically offensive departments first. He is politically prioritizing as is evidenced by cutting a profitable archiving group rather than less profitable more visible departments. I am an avid Republican however I’m voting democrat if they run a decent democrat next election.

Whirled Peas

October 4th, 2012
9:14 am

“Farmers quickly pointed out one blind spot in HB 87. Millions of dollars in crops rotted in the fields in the months after the measure’s passage, as Georgia’s underground labor force went deeper underground, or fled to friendlier states” So Jim Galloway thinks that farmers have the right to a perpetual supply of below market labor even if it breaks the law.
Jim Galloway is a left wing hack and a laborer for the Leftist Party of America, AKA, Democrats.
How low this once-great paper has sunk.


October 4th, 2012
9:22 am

LMAO Obviously, Jim Galloway wrote today’s blog Yesterday just in case Obama lost the debate. And guess what jimboo, oblamey lost like the dog that finally caught that car. You just can’t bring yourself to admit it. Go share some crow pie with Chrissy Matthews, Coward

Sarah Scott

October 4th, 2012
9:35 am

While I agree that it is a shame our archives will not be open for use- SoS Kemp is not burning them. He simply is doing what many Georgia family’s have been forced to do- cut back our expenses. If the geneologists are so worried- offer to work for free. But do not blame SoS Kemp for making tough decisions in tough economic times.

Auntie Christ

October 4th, 2012
9:39 am

Whirled Peas
October 4th, 2012
9:14 am

Jim Galloway writes that “Farmers quickly pointed out one blind spot in HB 87. Millions of dollars in crops rotted in the fields in the months after the measure’s passage,….” then our vigilant librul media bias watchdog writes: “So Jim Galloway thinks that farmers have the right to a perpetual supply of below market labor even if it breaks the law. Jim Galloway is a left wing hack and a laborer for the Leftist Party ….
So I guess if Galloway had written something like “Farmers pointed out that the recent spell of bad weather has caused crops to die in the field….” then our professional victim, world’s pea brain would say that it shows Jim Galloway to be a left wing hack who thinks that farmers are entitled to sunshine and blue skies, and is nothing but a pinko liberal who hates Amerka’s weather.

My god, where do these people come from, and how scary is it that most of them are armed to the teeth?

Look before I leap...

October 4th, 2012
9:48 am

The gloatfest by the righties is here:
and you’ll note that Jim was crystal clear in declaring Romney the winner of the debate.

FWIW: Romney did very well last night, Obama, not so much. Enjoy your day in the sun!


October 4th, 2012
10:26 am

I honestly don’t think I could be more disappointed in an elected official than I am of Kemp. I hope another Republican runs against him in 2014. What a disaster.


October 4th, 2012
10:33 am

The Professional Licensing Boards Division of the Secretary of States office was devastated by the cuts Sec. Handell made. Yet, Kemp inherited an organization, according to your numbers of 126 employees, which he has cut to 87. That is a 31% cut on top of what Sec. Handell did in her bid to show how efficient government could be, while destroying the integrity of the PLB Division. This has been done to a revenue producing agency that should at least be budgeted its operating costs for the simple fact that the more efficient it is at collecting fees and fines, the more the state general fund receives. Instead, activities such as testing are being outsourced to other states. Complaint investigations take months, even years to finish. The remaining staff are indeed overworked and cannot do their jobs effectively,

We now hear that Sec. Kemp is soliciting input from the licensing boards that he tried to destroy with his bill last year to create a “Super Board.” He will be back with an “Improved” version. The thought that he would have lay persons making decisions and rules about professional licensing issues was not good for the state then, nor is it now. A lay person can’t have a grasp of the concerns that manicurists, foresters, used car dealers, or the myriad of other licenses that have been monitored by their peers in the past.

The Secretary of State is a Constitutional Officer unlike DCH, DOE. He should have the fortitude to stand up to the legislature and demand funding adequate to perform the operations of his office, especially in those areas where surpluses are demonstrated to augment the general funds of the state. It could be that he wishes to show that his office is un-necessary, or perhaps, justify more outsourcing to the cronies that provide the political funding to maintain this desecration of the state and it’s citizens.

If Sec. Kemp’s goal is to cut the staffing of his offices to the point they are no longer exist, why do we need an SOS anyway? Or another way of looking at it, if he is not up to the job of performing the duties of his office and its services to the citizens of this state, perhaps we need someone who can and will honor the Constitution of this great state.


October 4th, 2012
10:46 am


Excellent points.
I wonder though if the assumption was that closing the archives would be met with little concern and allow the machinations of ‘they who control the present control the past, they who control the past control the future’ to proceed unobstructed?

On another note, did handel’s STTP (straight to toilet paper) book include a chapter on the damage she had done to the Secretary of State’s office?

Gordo Meisin Canton

October 4th, 2012
11:38 am

There was a bill in process last session that would have remedied this and other problems. It was allowed to die. The AJC said nearly nothing.

While Ga has more illegals than Arizona, Nathan Deal has been silent on illegal immigration and will do nothing to help save jobs and budget dollars rom illegal aliens. Look for a token effort around re-election time. I pray that another Republican challenges Deal in 2014. Get him and the Gainesville Chamber of Commerce paid mafia out of office! That includes that arrogant idiot crook Chris Riley.


October 4th, 2012
11:44 am

The aspiring oligarchs who run this state think we’re stupid.

Homegrown Atlantan

October 4th, 2012
11:47 am

My mother donated land grant deeds from King George to the original purchaser of Georgia property, as well as letters from my great-great-grandfather before he died in Marietta during the Atlanta campaign. Now she has to make an appointment to see the items she donated. Once upon a time, we lived in a country where we paid taxes and we got things in return, like an educated workforce, state and national parks, roads and bridges, and access to Georgia’s historical treasures. Now the Grover Norquist paranoids want no taxes and are willing to live through the resultant dystopia. You get what you pay for, and nobody wants to pay for anything.


October 4th, 2012
12:00 pm

Thank goodness we have pol’s who are willing to make actual trade-off decisions…and not just fund everything, like their brethren in IL and CA. In spite of all the hatred and vitriol thrown at them on these blogs by the blind partisans, we are truly fortunate to have folks who will make reasonable decisions, and not bury our state in debt that future generations will have to cover.

Capitol Hack

October 4th, 2012
12:30 pm

You wanted smaller government…this is what smaller government looks like, folks! BTW – does the Georgia State Patrol still close at night? And have you noticed that you can’t see many of the highway signs on Georgia’s interstates because the trees and weeds have grown in front of them? Don’t worry, the leaves will fall off soon. At least Georgia’s taxes are low! Yee-haw!


October 4th, 2012
1:01 pm

JG practices selective and biased journalism. Oh, he works for the AJC? Sorry! Forgot! That is a requirement isn’t it?

You get what you pay for...

October 4th, 2012
1:05 pm

This is just the begining folks. Today the Archive, but tomorrow what cuts will be made to pay for the needed transpotation items the state didn’t get us to vote for when they just pushed the bill down the road? How is the upgrades to water supply going to happen? How much are we going to cut to account for the lost federal dollars coming our way (from whoever is in charge January 20Th)? What will lose to pay for the needed Savannah River deepening when DC says no to paying for it? When the charter school bill passes – where does the State money come from to pay for it (can’t touch local BOE taxes – sorry boys and girls)? What’s sad is that until the only thing left to cut is the funding to UGA football, none of you are going to care so long as you save that extra $100.00 on your taxes next year (which you will end up spending in just one day for a UGA party…).


October 4th, 2012
1:07 pm

It is embarrassing to find out how little the anti-tax crowd values civilization.


October 4th, 2012
1:12 pm

Anyone who has made a trip down I75 and stopped in Dalton already knows part of this. Based on the last census the top four counties in GA for Hispanics are Whitfield-32.3%, that’s Dalton, Echols-29.4%, Atkinson-24.8%, and Colquitt-17.6%. All these counties are in South GA except Whitfield. We all know that would be agricultural aspects in Southern GA, but the drawing card for Dalton has to be the carpet industry. AND I thought these were all jobs American just wouldn’t do? Many decent and good-paying jobs are being occupied by illegal immigrants. Ga leaders have to continue to fight it, no matter how sympathetic and pandering the liberal left media makes it. Those percentages are way too high!


October 4th, 2012
1:28 pm

As a US Rep., Deal represented the district with the two Georgia towns with the highest percentage of illegal alien residents. The principals of the chicken farmers in Gainesville, and the carpet mills in Dalton, were among the largest contributors to his campaigns. HB-87 was custom designed to not do anything to effect their supply of illegal aliens, or Deal wouldn’t have signed it. Tens of thousands of Georgians have been displaced from the job market as a result. A large part of the state’s budget woes can be attributed to the massive costs associated with Deal’s cronies’ importing uneducated, third world indigents for the taxpayers to sustain. It is the real redistribution of wealth – the middle class is forced to subsidize their work force, so they can make more money.

Look before I leap...

October 4th, 2012
1:48 pm

If you got your head out of Rush’s backside for just a moment, you would see that the complaints are coming from both sides of the political aisle.
You may now resume suckling on Grover’s teat.


October 4th, 2012
1:52 pm

dum-Bass.. “Anyone who has made a trip down I75 and stopped in Dalton already)

First the demise of DALTON was in part brought on by the stupidly of the mayor and county leaders (term loosely used) and fueled by the carpet mill owners themselves. They created the work problem making people do the work of 5 people…yeah try it when the carpet lime is moving at full speed…Then along come the Latino’s willing to work for nearly nothing. Need I say more. Too bad the state does not have a Archives so people can look it up.

I did see the word IMPEACHMENT used and I suggest.

Impeach DEAL. Recall rogers. Just to name a few.

As for last nights debate. I think President Obama was more truthful than the one with the botox poker faced..

Re-elect President OBAMA


October 4th, 2012
1:59 pm

OK libs can you name the one item in the budget raising more then any other? Maybe we should find some ways to cut our spending in this area to keep the archives open.


October 4th, 2012
2:13 pm

The lack of understanding of the Georgia Archives role in state government is frightening. The Archives was established to receive, store, protect and make available records that document the decisions and actions of government. No Archives and there is no government accountability. Multiple state laws, all predating the immigration bill, mandate Archives functions. Secretary Kemp is just seeking a new justification for why he has shown, and stated, that the Georgia Archives is his lowest priority.

Hillbilly D

October 4th, 2012
2:27 pm

Secretary Kemp is just seeking a new justification for why he has shown, and stated, that the Georgia Archives is his lowest priority.

That’s about the size of it.


October 4th, 2012
3:10 pm

If that’s the tradeoff then it’s worth every penny. And many many more if necessary.


October 4th, 2012
3:21 pm

I’ve read all of the current posts. While I’ve seen some good points, it deeply disturbs me that only a few seem to understand what is really happening here. I don’t think Georgians know what government records are stored at the Archives or what this will mean. Records housed there are necessary for efficient, fiscally responsible, transparent government operations. The Georgia Archives doesn’t just house census records and family history books. Georgians don’t seem to realize that they are losing their legal rights to these public records. Georgia Records Act, Title 50, Chapter 18, Article 4, Section 70 (b) of the Georgia Annotated Code states, “(b) All public records of an agency . . . shall be open for a personal inspection by any citizen of this state at a reasonable time and place; and those in charge of such records shall not refuse this privilege to any citizen.” As it stands now, come November 1, the full-time staff of the Archives will be cut to three (one a buildings/grounds maintenance worker) and citizens will be required to make an appointment to see records. When they call for appointments, they will be competing with all of the employees from state agencies who also require access to documents to handle everything from legal disputes over county boundary lines to legislative matters. By what definition will an appointment-only system and a staff like this be providing access “at a reasonable time”? What happens to government transparency when citizens are in a situation where access to public records can so easily be denied due to “necessary budget cuts”?


October 4th, 2012
3:31 pm

Mr. President does not need to be aggressive to moderator as mr. Rommey was”I am going to balance budget[very little money /social issue] by getting rid of PBS, your job ,educational programs for children of everyone. NOva etc, most objective news.
President Obama let Rommey do the talking so everyone could see his flip-flopping;
relook at primary debates, his speeches, his video 5/14/12 47% moochers. Check out Ryan’s budget 2011 which all republicans voted for.
cuts 17 billion in veterans program , turn medicare to voucher, did you hear rommey explain it last night.
Check for yourself or google, do not believe politicians mouths check their votes.

They will say anything to get your vote and then do what they want for wealthy/multi-national corporations[take our jobs overseas/china for workers earning $2.00 an hour] but nothing for you. the workers.

Over 30 years of Republican Policy of tax cuts for wealthy/jobs will trickle down;; Income ;;wealthy up 251% workers up 12%[inflation adjusted]. google working man party- c-span /others.
41% of Georgians fit Rommey’s 47%, many in rural areas , less likely to have cable/internet, less likely to be able to afford to support PBS with money.


October 4th, 2012
3:33 pm

I may have a solution.
Establish a board of 3 volunteer Citizens.
The function of the board will be to pre-approve all interactions between lobbyists and either legislators, PSC members or any other State regulatory official until funds can be allocated to restore full function to the Archives.
A 2/3 vote would be required to pre-approve the interaction and record any and all expenditures.

I would wager it would be astounding how fast the funds would be found and how large the funding would be.

Oscar Knight

October 4th, 2012
5:26 pm

….In order to get to The Georgia Archives, one has to travel into The City of Morrow. Going into Morrow is like going into a third world dictatorship communist nation.


October 4th, 2012
5:38 pm

In reply to Sarah Scott: Even though Kemp has an official duty to protect these records and public access to them, he is making the 3% cut Deal told him to make by taking it all from the Archives. Deal is asking for these cuts to say he has cut the budget. However, these cuts and job losses are just the end result of a lack of fiscal responsibility in the first place. When so much is spent in other areas, like Go Fish and a well to benefit a Lake Lanier resort, cuts must be made somewhere. Who is to say these “cuts” won’t cost Georgians more in the long run? Many records for operating the state government in an efficient and fiscally responsible way are housed at the Georgia Archives. When you make cuts, you lose knowledge of the records and access to them. The Archives employees to be eliminated as of Nov. 1 have over 113 years of collective knowledge of the collections. While some of it is genealogy knowledge, they also know how to access state agency and legislative documents, as well as county records. I don’t imagine they get paid enough now that their savings allows them to work for free for the rest of their lives. Those who are genealogists are not on staff. They are, oddly enough, professional genealogists and “small business” people who will lose income. They will have to compete for appointment times in order to meet their obligations to clients.

Concerned Gwinnettian

October 4th, 2012
8:43 pm

This would be laughable if it wasn’t so sad! It is not only genealogists that will be denied access to public records. It is all of the citizens of Georgia! You will be denied access. Three employees can’t field 14,000 plus annual public records requests plus meet other obligations mandated by Georgia law. Repeat- mandated by Georgia law. Authors, Historians, Educators, Attorneys, Researchers, City, County, & State Workers, Legislators, Governors- no one will be able to access important state records. People of Georgia, wake up! What will be denied next?!
While I am sympathetic to the budget issues, I do blame Mr. Kemp. It is not fair for the Georgia Archives to take a disproportionate cut. The Archives has gone from 100 to less than 10 employees in ten years and operates two days each week on a bare bones budget. The employees of the Archives deserve a reward for taking the staffing and budget cuts and still functioning. We still have to pay the 2.7 million rent on the building and we will pay unemployment for the employees. How much are we saving?
Please explain why genealogists should work for free? Perhaps, you mean volunteer. The state of Georgia will not allow volunteers to handle their records collection. As for genealogists, we are small business owners that have been forced to figure out how to do forty hours of work each week in the 16 hours the archives Is open and now we will lose our businesses because of Mr. Kemp’s decision. Has your family been forced to cut back all of your income? I thought not. Shame on you.

Cuddly ;)

October 4th, 2012
9:21 pm

Jim that face of yours makes me all warm and bubbly inside.