Immigration Law Stalls Atlanta Airport Project

Georgia’s recently passed immigration law has halted the process for determining food and retail vendors at Atlanta’s Hartsfield International Airport.

With a new international terminal scheduled to open in the spring of 2012, airport authorities decided to revamp the airport’s concessions, requesting bids from current and prospective vendors. The airport houses 126 food and beverage sellers and 24 retailers.

Having collected the requested proposals, Atlanta’s chief procurement officer, Adam Smith, recently announced 36 percent of applicants did not properly submit a form required by the Georgia Immigration Security Compliance Act. The form in question related to the state’s E-Verify system for ensuring all employees have a work visa or are otherwise authorized to be employed in the United States.

Because such a large number of applications were disqualified due to inaccurate or incomplete E-Verify forms, Smith decided to restart the application process. He said it would unfairly reduce competition to only consider vendors who had turned in qualifying applications.

More than 500 people attended an event last January at which airport officials explained the application procedure, according to a City of Atlanta statement.

E-Verify laws have created controversy in many states, including California, Indiana, Louisiana and Virginia, which have instituted or are considering laws like Georgia’s. California farmers are so concerned E-Verify laws will reduce their labor force, they have lobbied the federal government to create a special new worker visa to cover immigrant farm workers.