Posted on October 5, 2011 by SC Appleseed Legal Justice Center
Wednesday, Oct. 05, 2011
ATLANTA — A farm labor shortage that left crops rotting in the fields after Georgia passed a law cracking down on illegal immigration shows the need for a retooled or expanded guest worker program for migrant laborers, Georgia’s agriculture commissioner told a panel of Washington lawmakers Tuesday.
Commissioner Gary Black testified at a Senate subcommittee hearing on immigration enforcement and farm labor that an informal survey showed farmers of onions, watermelons and other handpicked crops lacked more than 11,000 workers during their spring and summer harvest. Farmers say that’s because the Georgia immigration law scared off many migrant workers.
Financial incentives aimed at getting unemployed Georgians and even criminals on probation to take their place picking crops were marginally successful, Black said, because the new workers were too slow and often quit because of the strenuous labor involved.
“A robust agricultural guest worker program, properly designed, will not displace American workers,” Black said in remarks prepared for the hearing. “As my testimony shows, in Georgia, even with current high unemployment rates, it is difficult for farmers to fill their labor needs.”
Black said it’s still unclear how much the labor shortage will ultimately cost farmers. But one group says growers have already lost tens of millions of dollars. (more…)
Filed under: Arizona-copycat laws, immigrant community, Law Enforcement, Migrant Workers | Tagged: Agricluture Commissioner, bell peppers, blackberries, blueberries, Charles Hal, cucumbers, Gary Black, Georgia, Georgia Fruit And Vegetable Growers Association, John McKissick, onions, squash, watermelons | 3 Comments »
Posted on June 29, 2011 by SC Appleseed Legal Justice Center
From The Atlanta Journal-Constitution:
3:31 pm June 14, 2011, by Jay Bookman
After enactment of 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.
It might almost be funny if it wasn’t so sad.
The resulting manpower shortage has forced state farmers to leave millions of dollars’ worth of blueberries, onions and other crops unharvested and rotting in the fields. It has also put state officials into something of a panic at the damage they’ve done to Georgia’s largest industry.
Barely a month ago, you might recall, Gov. Nathan Deal welcomed the TV cameras into his office as he proudly signed HB 87 into law. Two weeks later, with farmers howling, a scrambling Deal was forced to order a hasty investigation into the impact of the law he had just signed, as if all this had come as quite a surprise to him. (more…)
Filed under: Arizona-copycat laws, immigrant community, Law, Law Enforcement | Tagged: Gary Black, Georgia, H.B. 87, Nathan Deal | Leave a Comment »
Posted on June 15, 2011 by SC Appleseed Legal Justice Center
With Georgia’s restrictive immigration law set to kick in, Gov. Nathan Deal Tuesday is sending convicted criminals to fill farm jobs vacated by undocumented immigrants fleeing the state.
Deal, a first-term Republican, issued a statement on Tuesday morning calling on the state’s commissioners of labor, corrections and agriculture to work together to connect unemployed probationers with a state agriculture industry now desperate for workers.
“I believe this would be a great partial solution to our current status as we continue to move towards sustainable results with the legal options available,” Deal said in his statement.
Kansas Secretary of State Kris Kobach, who wrote the Arizona and more-restrictive Alabama immigration laws, told POLITICO the state-level immigration battles will soon move from conservative to swing states like Missouri and Pennsylvania.
According to Deal, Georgia has 100,000 probationers, with 8,000 in the state’s heavily-agricultural southwest. A full quarter of the probationers, he said, are unemployed.
Georgia lawmakers in April passed legislation that mirrors Arizona’s controversial 2010 measure. The Peach State will require businesses to confirm employees’ immigration status and gives law enforcement power to check whether suspects are in the country legally. (more…)
Filed under: Arizona-copycat laws, immigrant community, Law | Tagged: Gary Black, Georgia, Georgia Association of Latino Elected Officials, Jerry Gonzalez, Kansas, Kris Kobach, Nathan Deal | Leave a Comment »