Some Georgia farmers are worried about the impact of the recently passed Arizona-style immigration law. But the Republican governor and lawmakers contend that it’s necessary for the state’s economy, WBEZ 91.5 Chicago Public Media
Georgia onion growers are particularly worried because their crops, which amount to a $140 million industry in the state, are too delicate for machines to pick.
"Right now, they're just coming in through the field," said Aries Haygood of M&T Farms as he watched about 50 migrant workers pick golden onions. "They're grabbing the onions out and just clipping the tops and roots getting them prepared to bring to the packing house."
Haygood relies heavily on migrant workers.
"Our biggest fear is that, because of the way the bill could be structured, we won't be able to find enough workers to do the work that we need done in a short amount of time," he said.
Gov. Nathan Deal understands that there are concerns with the new law, including a legal challenge. But he contends that it’s the right thing to do, because the half a million illegal immigrants in the state cost taxpayer billions of dollars each year.
"Let me reiterate something important that sometimes gets lost," he said. "Illegal immigration is already illegal in the state of Georgia."
Republican State Rep. Matt Ramsey, who sponsored the bill Deal signed, said, “It's not just an immigration issue. It's a school issue. It's a transportation issue. It's a healthcare issue. "
Georgia, illegal immigration, Arizona-style, Nathan Deal
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