Despite the 35,000 Georgians’ signatures collected by the Coordinating Council of Latino Community Leaders of Atlanta in support of undocumented workers obtaining driver’s licenses, the council’s president, Teodoro Maus, is still disappointed by the construction and poultry industries’ lack of official backing.

          “Many local companies that hire Latino immigrants are very much in favor of the proposal, but they have not paid their dues by formally supporting a lobbying effort,” Mr. Maus told GlobalFax last week at the state Capitol.

          The former Mexican consul general in Atlanta, who has been an advocate for the Latino immigrant community during his 10 years here, was at the state Capitol to present the 35,000 supporters’ signatures to Gov. Roy Barnes’ office.

          He encouraged Georgia companies that depend on the services of Latino and other immigrant workers to lobby the state Legislature for a change in the law prohibiting undocumented workers from being licensed.

          He said the construction industry in particular is not fulfilling its obligation to protect its workers’ jobs. “The construction companies don’t care to embrace this issue formally because they just replace workers who do not have transportation or who get arrested for driving without licenses,” he noted.

          Mr. Maus estimated that about 40,000 persons in Georgia are driving without licenses and, hence, cannot get automobile insurance.

          The result is a growing number of fake licenses, costing up to $1,500 a piece, Mr. Maus said. Immigrants use the forgeries to obtain insurance, only to be fined or arrested when the fraud is discovered, he added.

          Mr. Maus, who is also president of the Mexican American Business Chamber in Atlanta, said that the driver’s license issue is pertinent to all local businesses because undocumented workers are an important part of he state economy as a whole. He added that if these workers are allowed to get licenses, their personal information and fingerprints will be recorded by the state, providing greater security for companies hiring them.

          A House bill introduced by Rep. Mary Squires (D-Norcross), would permit drivers to use licenses issued in states bordering Georgia or in Canada and Mexico to drive here legally until those licenses expire. The bill’s number is 983.

          Contact Mr. Maus at or Ms. Squires at (770) 938-9667.