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Vidalia Denies Harboring of Illegal Immigrants
Friday, 06 July 2012

July 6--  The city of Vidalia denies charges that it gives illegal immigrants safe harbor by allowing them to live, travel and work in the city.

A Twin City resident with a history of filing complaints about illegal immigrants filed the charges with the state's new Immigration Enforcement Review Board.

Michael Dale Smith accuses Vidalia Mayor Ronnie Dixon and Lark Builder's owner Bob Moore of having an unwritten policy that allows Lark's immigrant employees who are arrested to be released and allowed to return to work.

"I tell you what.  Have Mr. Moore show you that identification and see how many social security numbers come up fraudulent and he's not the only one, there's others in Vidalia.  You've had illegal aliens in that city for a long time and others around here, too.  It's cheap labor and the businessmen and the farmers have been doing the game and it's time for punishment.  People going to be punished," Smith says.

Smith has been unemployed for 11 months and wants illegal aliens who are working to be fired and sent home and replaced with U.S. citizens.  He has written at least eight letters to employers and organizations since 2010 as part of his campaign.

Lark Builders says it has no agreement with Vidalia regarding its employees and Vidalia Police Chief Frank Waits says all suspected illegal immigrants are treated the same.

"First we're going to run them on the computer and if we get nothing back, we notify ICE and they let us know something or tell us to hold the person until they can find out something," Waits says.

Georgia's new immigration law created a state board to police enforcement and a sub-committee of the board will further investigate Smith's claims and determine if a hearing is required.

Vidalia city manager Bill Torrance says the city will cooperate fully with any investigation.

"We've done absolutely nothing wrong.  There is no policy creating a sanctuary city in Vidalia. We're going to cooperate fully with any investigation because we have nothing to hide," Torrance said.

The state law provides punishment to include the loss of state funding for government agencies and fines of up to $5,000 for officials who "knowingly" violate the immigration law.

 
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