Atlanta small businesses concerned about the immigration documentation of their employees can use federal Web sites to learn how to better comply with regulations on employing foreign nationals, said Rosemary Melville during the Latino Summit last week.

Ms. Melville, district director in Atlanta of the U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services department of the U.S. Department of Homeland Security, spoke during a panel at the Latin American Association’s eighth annual summit that focused Latino migration.

“Employers are not supposed to be experts in the detection of false social security documents, for example, but there are resources available to help them,” Ms. Melville said.

She referred small companies to the information on her agency’s Web site,, when hiring. More specifically, the Web page lists various references and documents that explain employers’ responsibilities in employing non-U.S. citizens.

A Form I-9 employment eligibility verification booklet is also available on-line that includes the documents employers will need to collect from potential foreign-born employees.

“It’s really a balancing act for employers,” commented Tisha Tallman, Southeast regional counsel of the Mexican American Legal Defense and Educational Fund, who joined Ms. Melville on the panel. “Employers just need to investigate what they can and cannot do in hiring.”

Ms. Tallman suggested small businesses refer to the National Immigration Law Center’s Web site at to find publications on immigrant work eligibility.

“Everyone agrees the immigration system is broken and needs to be fixed,” Ms. Tallman said. But until a comprehensive reform plan is in place, companies must keep up with the “interim steps” to immigration reform, including various legislative initiatives being introduced in U.S. Congress each session, in order to stay informed about policies that might affect them, she said.

The good news, Ms. Melville said, is that her Buford Highway office, which covers Alabama, Georgia and North and South Carolina, is in the process of hiring more immigration specialists to meet the growing needs of immigrants and companies in this region.

Ms. Melville told GlobalAtlanta that an agent from her department may be able to give a seminar to a group of small companies needing more information about proper hiring procedures for foreign nationals. Contact her office at (404) 331-0253. Contact the Latin American Association for more information about its annual Latino Summit at (404) 638-1800 or