Georgia's new immigration bill might influence what state farmers can grow


Jeremy Hobson: To Georgia now where the criticism is pouring in after the state's governor Nathan Deal signed an Arizona-style immigration bill targeting undocumented residents. Tourism and convention officials in Atlanta fear it will lead to an economic boycott.

And there are concerns about the effect it'll have on farmers as Jeanne Bonner of Georgia Public Broadcasting reports.

Jeanne Bonner: Georgia's law requires businesses with 11 employees or more to use the federal "e-verify" system to make sure workers are legal. Officials in Georgia's agriculture industry are concerned about its impact on the workforce.

Charles Hall: You have to have the migrant worker, or else you can't get your crop in.

That's Charles Hall of the Georgia Fruit and Vegetable Growers Association. Hall says without teams of migrant workers, farmers may switch from growing key Georgia crops like peaches and Vidalia onions to other produce that machines can harvest.

Hall: A row crop -- a cotton, a peanut, a soybean -- does not require the hand labor and the harvest labor that vegetables or peaches or blueberries do.

It's unclear how strictly the state will enforce the provision. But the bill's sponsor, Republican State Senator Matt Ramsey, says it removes the number one incentive that brings illegal immigrants to Georgia.

Matt Ramsey: That's access to jobs.

Some of the law's provisions take effect July 1.

In Atlanta, I'm Jeanne Bonner for Marketplace.

Log in to post3 Comments

Losing revenue from tourism and conventions is a lot cheaper than paying for the social services sucked up by illegals. As far as the crops go, there is plenty of cheap labor in the prison system.

These large farmers/industries very well know there are multiple classes of agricultural visas by which they can get all the legal immigrant workers they need.Their real fear is that they might have to pay a fair wage.Illegal aliens are used as modern day slaves for cheap wages and higher profits.

There may be consequences to obeying our laws, but there are also built-in protections. U.S. taxpayers must be protected from foreign criminals who are here to exploit us. They steal our identities, evade taxes by working for cash and steal our jobs, have twice as many kids as citizens and line up for welfare while they send billions to their own country each year.


With Generous Support From...