Georgia Immigration Law Hits Farmers Hard

Thursday, 23 Jun 2011 01:56 PM

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A massive labor shortage stemming from passage of an immigration law in the state of Georgia has left crops rotting in fields, according to an Atlanta Journal-Constitution columnist.

“After enacting House Bill 87, a law designed to drive illegal immigrants out of Georgia, state officials appear shocked to discover that HB 87 is, well, driving a lot of illegal immigrants out of Georgia,” writes the newspaper's Jay Bookman.

Bookman says that crops like blueberries and onions that are worth millions of dollars have no one to pick them, and that Republican Gov. Nathan Deal ordered an investigation into the situation. Deal’s survey of farmers revealed that they will require 11,000 laborers this season. Bookman writes that the governor suggested farmers hire the 2,000 state residents in the agricultural region who happen to be on probation for criminal offenses.

The article quotes from a recent editorial that appeared in the Valdosta Daily Times: “Maybe this should have been prepared for, with farmers’ input. Maybe the state should have discussed the ramifications with those directly affected. Maybe the immigration issue is not as easy as ‘send them home,’ but is a far more complex one in that maybe Georgia needs them, relies on them, and cannot successfully support the state’s No. 1 economic engine without them.”

Finding legal laborers is difficult, according to Bookman, because of the low pay and lack of benefits, with an average pay of around $8 per hour.

“Deal’s pledge to find ‘viable and law-abiding solutions’ to the problem that he helped create seems naively far-fetched,” writes Bookman. “Again, if such solutions existed, they should have been put in place before the bill ever became law, because this impact was entirely predictable.”


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