A Follow Up on Background Checks in Immigration Reforms

A few months ago, we posted about how background checks may become part of immigration reforms. Although this hasn’t been applied on a national level yet, some states have instead taken the initiative to enact their own laws regarding immigration – and background checks are included. In Georgia, an area of the country that has been seeing more illegal immigrants over the past few years, the Georgia Security and Immigration Compliance Act was enacted and, as a result, all towns in the state are required to check all non-citizens and employees for public health benefits. The issue of illegal non-citizens getting on Medicaid and Medicare has been an issue for many Southern states, and such an act is designed to curb this behavior.

However, an article published recently details that such background checks are a considerable cost for many towns in Georgia. The act specifies that all local employees and non-citizens need to be verified through a Homeland Security database that costs $25 per month to access. This is coupled with the cost of a fee for each verification. With several applications, this becomes a significant expense for many towns in Georgia.

Nevertheless, the cost of non-compliance – or not checking every employee and non-citizen – for eligibility for public health benefits ends up being higher than just checking everyone. In cases like this, someone could easily not be checked, be dishonest about his or her citizenship, and end up claiming Medicaid, Medicare, or another public state program, and the state would end up paying for someone’s monthly premiums – significantly higher than paying a monthly $25 fee any other costs. As much as we hear that background checks are costly and time-consuming, they have a benefit. Be it for employment or checking government benefits, knowing someone’s history will give a full picture of that person – including his or her honesty.