Georgia’s Harsh Immigration Law Leaves Crops Rotting in Fields

Monday, June 27, 2011
Gov. Nathan Deal
Fed up with the presence of illegal immigrants in their state, lawmakers in Georgia recently adopted legislation intended to drive such individuals “back home.”
In the process of doing so, politicians have crippled Georgia’s largest economic sector: agriculture, much to the annoyance of many farmers, who were left out of the loop when the law was being crafted.
With the enactment of House Bill 87, the “Illegal Immigration Reform and Enforcement Act of 2011,” thousands of farmworkers fled the state, leaving millions of dollars in crops—blueberries, onions, melons and others—to sit rotting in the fields.
Georgia is in need of more than 11,000 field hands, but the only solution offered up so far by Republican Governor Nathan Deal is for farmers to hire 2,000 ex-cons.
The average farmworker job pays only $8 an hour, with little or no benefits, which helps to explain why Georgians are not flocking to fill the void left behind by the vacating illegal immigrants.
-Noel Brinkerhoff
GA’s Farm-Labor Crisis Playing Out as Planned (by Jay Bookman, Atlanta Journal Constitution)
See all 11 comments


Bill 9 years ago
wow! 25-28 dollars an hour for picking, that's amazing. where are these wonderful jobs pray tell? i'd bet a few georgians would get off their duff and work for that. i just don't see how that squares with the average farm job paying $8 per hour with no benefits. and where are all these wealthy pickers? i've never seen a one. it's a known fact that welfare recipients will not go to work for any amount of money and won't do any picking ever. i suggest the georgia legislators get out in the fields and help the farmers whose lives they've ruined.
jack 9 years ago
i have worked on farms and ranches and it was a pretty good job ihave been working construction for most of my adult life now i dont now about you but 25-28dollars an hour seems like pretty good money for pickingfruit and produce and the poor illegal making 250.00 _500.00 dollers a day working for hb vacary or flu0r danials driving a 25000.00 dollar truckk pulling a40.000 dollartrailer sending 60.000 dollars back to mexico or hondrus
Brenda 9 years ago
bottom line and key word - "illegal," which means against our law. if this was iran, each illegal would be tried as a spy. my easy solution - reform welfare. instead of having inmates do the work (which isn't a bad idea - they can earn their keep too), perhaps those who receive welfare checks should work for what they are given. i can recall a day when those on welfare were embarrassed. now they brag about it. it is a system that is abused with taxpayer's dollars caught in a quagmire of multigenerational dependence. i was raised with the philosophy "there are no free lunches. if you want something, you have to work for it." it is time for government to make people work for what they get. give each welfare recipient, who is deemed fit, a job to do (working in the fields, picking up trash on the highways, edging sidewalks in cities, scrubbing tiolets at rest stops, painting over graffiti on buldings/bridges). if they do not do their job, they do not receive welfare. instead of just draining our coffers dry, perhaps they should contribute to our society and feel a little pride in their contribution.
brendancalling 9 years ago
it's my understanding that deal's base is the rural counties of georgia. in other words, they put deal in office, even though they knew ( deal wanted to get rid of immigrant workers. "the former u.s. congressman walks along a lush meadow hemmed by a wooden fence, promising to get tough on illegal immigrants because they cost you far too much. "illegal aliens are costing georgia taxpayers over a billion dollars every year," said deal, who has long pushed for more restrictions on citizenship and aggressive enforcement of current immigration laws." now, his rural supporters are crying because they got what they wanted. oops. next time, think with your brain instead of your xenophobia, georgians.
wake up 9 years ago
kellylake doesn't speak for all georgians. hb87 was generated by hate not reason or jobs. "facts" were generated by special interest groups with a self serving agenda. the gop pushed this legislation. they were told this is what would happen but they refused to listen, taking a "superior than thou" attitude and discounting all that was said by those who had a different view. the agriculture issues are just one small part of the fall out. as people leave, property values are plummeting even deeper (less housing demand.); businesses close. these, and other things ripple throughout the state and economy. the gop says they are for less government, but write laws requiring more. lawmakers refused to attach an economic impact fiscal note to hb87, could be they didn't want constituents to know the true cost since this was a popular campaign topic. we need reason and balance in government not partisan politics that divided, but rather politics that serve the people.
Gyla De La Rosa 9 years ago
dear archie, thank you from the bottom of my heart. i have nothing to add! thank you for an educated comment and a heart that goes with it. thank you thank you gracias!
A US Citizen 9 years ago
to all undocumented/illegal immigrants; i challenge you to leave georgia, immediately! let those hypocrite americans in your state to do your not pay anything eg., ss, or any goods(grocery, gas, rental. etc)[they don't even appreciate it when you did].at the end, we will know who is more precious in georgia's economy.
Ironweed 9 years ago
these people pocketing the money they would have to pay legal labor while they pocket government subsidies would rather let their crops rot and keep their greedy, thieving ways instead of standing up like decent americans and handle the situation without the thieves stealing us blind. the farmers most definitely fall under the "thieves" category.
kelleylake 9 years ago
it’s about time. i will tell you that we in georgia are applauding gov. deal, our sheriffs and all the others involved. as deal says, the costs of illegal immigration are too high. what we lose in fruit revenue we will gain in savings. the state has lost payroll taxes due to all the invisible illegal workers. illegal immigration has depressed house values, caused hospitals to charge us paying customers more while they write off the free healthcare to illegals, increased insurance rates due to uninsured drivers, increased unemployment as greedy company owners cheat the system with "under the table paid in cash" wages while they get richer quicker. it has increased crime (drug running, manufacturing, cartel gangs, hit and runs). illegals cost our penal system millions -- 1/3 of those incarcerated are illegal. our school systems have had to have furloughs (unpaid days) that cut wages to teachers, some of this due to esol classes that sapped up money from other subjects....and the list goes on.
kolos100 9 years ago
this is another proof that undocumented residents do not take american jobs. georgia needs to cancel all unemployment benefits. they have plenty of jobs now.

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