Rep. Doug Collins called on Immigration and Customs Enforcement and border patrol agencies on Aug. 27 to identify and deport any workers a the SK battery plant in Commerce who are in the country illegally.
It is the second letter Collins has sent to federal agencies about the issue.
Collins also said that some 200 possibly illegal SK immigrant workers had been discovered being secretly trained in welding skills at an abandoned chicken farm near the plant in Banks County.
Meanwhile, SK Battery has issued a new statement saying it is implementing new guidelines for its contractors building the facility.
"I find it hard, if not impossible, to believe it is a coincidence that there were over 200 Korean nationals engaged in a large-scale welding operation on a non-operational chicken farm a mere 5 miles from the construction project at the SK battery factory,” Collins wrote to the federal immigration agencies on Aug. 27. “Instead, the sad truth appears to be much simpler: either SK or a contractor of theirs large enough to illegally import, employ, and house hundreds of foreign nationals from halfway across the globe has broken the law in an effort to replace American workers with Korean foreign nationals."
A report from television Fox5 in Atlanta said the underground training site was in Banks County and was closed after local officials checked on it.
Collins also referred in his letter to an incident in May when ICE stopped 33 Korean nationals from entering the state to work at the SK construction site. Collins said SK had not taken action after that to fix the problem.
"It is further apparent that, instead of taking remedial steps after CBP’s enforcement action in May, those involved took steps to conceal their ongoing crimes," he wrote.
Collins said in his letter that SK had betrayed state and local officials who had given a huge amount of incentives to lure the EV battery to Jackson County believing that it would create jobs for area citizens, not Korean national.
"These illegal and immoral actions are, quite frankly, disgusting and a betrayal to Georgia taxpayers who have invested heavily in SK’s development in Jackson County,” Collins wrote. "I implore ICE and CBP to use every resource in your power to investigate SK and their contractors to identify and deport this illegal workforce and hold responsible anyone involved. I also urge you to suspend visas for any SK employee traveling to Georgia from any part of the world until this matter is resolved."
SK also issued a statement on Aug. 27 about the employment issue. Although it did not directly address Collins' earlier call for an investigation in the issue of illegal workers, it said the company would be implementing new guidelines for its building contractors to make sure all workers at the site are there legally.
"SK Battery America takes the questions raised about employment at the Georgia construction site very seriously and is taking strong actions to ensure U.S. laws and regulations are met in filling all positions.
"The construction workers at the site are hired by our contractors and are not SK employees. However, SKBA has told its contractors from the start to place a priority on hiring local American workers.
"SKBA is also implementing new measures, including a daily admission process to the site where all workers must present documentation. Every worker must bring documentation to prove they are lawfully permitted to work in the U.S. No illegal workers are permitted to enter SKBA’s site.
"SKBA has notified and will continue to require contractors to strictly comply with our policy. If any contractor is in violation of such policy, SKBA will impose severe sanctions, including possible termination of the contractor. Additionally, SKBA will conduct ongoing inspections to ensure our contractors’ compliance with applicable laws.
"After becoming aware in May of possible hiring issues by our construction contractors, SKBA reiterated with its contractors that U.S. employment guidelines must be followed. We are cooperating with authorities to provide our support in resolving any issues and taking proactive steps to address this matter.
"SKBA is investing $2.6 billion in the Georgia site as one of the largest economic development projects in the State’s history. The SKBA site already has created more than 1,000 American jobs during the construction process and will create 2,600 American jobs when the EV battery plants at the site reach full production."