Builder Chris Morse said illegal aliens may have been hired by subcontractors to work on the county’s new administration complex in south Bryan County.
Morse brought the issue to the Board of Commissioners on Dec. 1.
The long-time county resident said a Richmond Hill man came to him about a job, claiming he was turned down for employment by a subcontractor currently working on the new administration building.
Morse said the man told him the subcontractor allegedly hired illegal aliens because they could be paid lower wages than U.S. citizens or legal aliens.
"I’ve been talking to Rep. Jack Kingston about this issue for years," Morse said. "They (illegal aliens) get paid less money. They send the money they earn back to their families in their home country. They don’t pay taxes."
Morse said with 18 million Americans out of work there’s no excuse not to follow state law.
"I’m not trying to get any one in trouble," he said. "I’m just trying to prevent this from happening again."
Morse did not name the subcontractor who allegedly employed illegal aliens. However, he did admit he bid for drywall work on the project and did not get the contract.
Choate Construction is the primary contractor building the county’s 29,000-square foot, $3.6 million center. The building is located on Highway 144 in south Bryan County.
"We’re following the laws and the codes of Georgia and we’ve been following them," said Terry Lee, of Choate Construction. Lee is the project superintendent on the administrative complex.
"We do E-verify," he said.
E-Verify is a database used to verify a worker’s citizenship or legal alien status, Lee explained. He said the company makes sure its subcontractors submit the proper paperwork.
County officials said contractors and subcontractors must comply with state policy in order to be hired by the county.
"We are not aware that any contractor or subcontractor has hired and used illegal aliens on county jobs," Jones said in an email. "All future contracts will include the provisions as identified in the (commission) meeting. We will require the appropriate affidavits to be filed with the county in the future."
County attorney Charles Brown credited Jones with researching the state statute and assured commissioners the county would enforce it. Brown confirmed contractors and subcontractors must turn in affidavits verifying their workers’ citizenship status prior to a bid being accepted by the county.
The attorney said he has not seen such immigration issues in Bryan County, but has seen it play out in neighboring counties. He said the government recently conducted raids on poultry plants that employed large numbers of illegal aliens.
"These raids were aimed at the employees," he said. "Enforcement will now be aimed at employers."