Georgia’s Immigration Folly

by Will Tew on June 23, 2011 · 13 comments

in Employment, Labor

Who’d of thought it: cracking down on immigrant workers hurts the economy? Georgia’s learning the hard way as farms lose laborers and crops go unharvested. After its passing of strict anti-immigrant legislation in April, thousands of illegal workers have fled the state before the implementation of the law in July. This exodus of experienced farmhands meant 11,080  farm jobs left unfilled.

With a labor shortage to deal with, the government of the state of Georgia has a novel way of filling the vacancies: probationers. Atlanta also instituted a program to encourage those on probation to find work in the fields. Ex-cons, who find getting jobs difficult, aren’t exactly overjoyed at the opportunity, though. The grueling conditions and long hours of farm work discourage many new workers. Sometimes it only takes a few hours for them to quit.

Of course, the new workers cite wages as the reason for their high turnover rates, but you’ve got to wonder just how much would constitute “fair” pay. Whatever it is, it was high enough to make farmers turn to illegal workers in the first place. The lack of a stable workforce and skilled farmhands means less efficiency and less food. As food prices continue to rise, increasing the cost of labor on farms doesn’t sound like the smartest idea. The story’s too familiar though: politicians demagogue immigrants, then pass stupid bills, farmers complain, and almost everyone suffers.

Joel June 23, 2011 at 3:17 pm

Good going!!! Let’s put it this way, they grabed a gun and shot themselves in the foot… It’s sad to see this reality, but maybe we have to face it to understand and appreciate the people who’s at the bottom of the barrel. Like it or not, we need them in the fields picking our food.

Marge June 23, 2011 at 3:26 pm

Good for Georgia. Let these farms who have thrived (knowingly) on illegal alien labor go out of business. They are the reason this state is a mess. Yes, I will pay more for vegetables. We are sick of the illegal alien onslaught. Remember, businesses that succeed with illegal alien labor are businesses that should fail. The amount of farming visas is endless to obtain “legal” guest workers…but these businesses have chosen to go the illegal route in order to save a few cents….based on recent testimony in Georgia..it amounts to a difference of about 4 cents per vegetable….shame on these businesses…..pay some decent wages and stop turning our state into a slum of criminal aliens.

Allan June 23, 2011 at 4:53 pm

Farmers themselves cannot control prices of their commodities—any increase in wages comes out of profits for the most part and for small farmers profits have been very slim recently. The lack of a reliable labor force will put many of them out of business and along with them, many of the small businesses that are related. It will lead to greater imports, increased mechanization, and reduction of the number of small farms in favor of agribusiness.

As always, to any complex problem there is a simple solution—one that is wrong and causes more problems. Illegal aliens are not criminals. They are violating civil law, not criminal law.

jesica June 24, 2011 at 10:47 pm

a few cents really huh….. no matter what happens in this state people will still find the way to be here if it means staying here being afraid of immigration in order to provide for their family. its sad you think this way . criminals do not come too a place and work harsh conditions for couple dollars. Just to take something home to their family. yea you are willing to pay more for your food, but can you find somebody to grow it and pick it for what 7.25. work long hours and harsh conditions. have you heard about the state encouraging ex-convicts , people who have been in jail for braking the law to work in the fields. THEY HAVE SAID IT TAKE S BUT A COUPLE HOURS TO QUIT. yea they might work 6-8 hours max but they do not have the skill, they do not produce as much as this (criminals). be real this economy has grow over the years and you have saved on your food all these years.

jesica June 24, 2011 at 10:50 pm

read allan s comment.not criminals

Paul Hoffmann June 23, 2011 at 3:36 pm

We need a well-controlled and managed guest worker program. Who objects?

The presence of so many illegals in our communities has lowered our standard of living, cost us more money and reduced our ability to feel safe. Low-skilled, teenagers and people starting their lives over can no longer find traditional jobs. It costs us more money in insurance, security, education, crime, and medical care. Plus, what if you didn’t want your community taken over by foreignors who don’t speak English?

Police seem to turn a blind eye to the illegals. The illegals drive illegal cars, without driver’s licenses, without liability insurance.

Is it wrong for me to want to live among legal Americans who speak my language?

Higher food prices would be a small price to pay for a better, wealthier and safer life.

Rob June 23, 2011 at 9:42 pm

So you run criminal history and check papers, drivers license, and insurance cards of every Mexican you run across? Or do you determine they are illegal criminals without insurance and a drivers license solely on the color of their skin?

Rhetorical question.

Illegals Suck June 23, 2011 at 4:18 pm

Too bad for the farmers. They have broken immigration laws for years and now that they have to play by the book, they whine. These farmers sold out in favor of slave illegals. They should all be fined or jailed for hiring the illegals in the first place. When you base a whole segment of business on law breaking, this is the end result. No sympathy for the greedy, anti-American, traiterous farmers! GA was right to create these laws and make all businesses play by the same rules. If all states passed similar laws, the illegals would have nowhere to go but back to their own countries. Deport all illegals. Why doesn’t GA make people collecting welfare pick the crops. Better to have them pay taxes than to just take from the gov’t and be unproductive citizens. Or the farmers can just stop the greed and pay a livable wage with benefits.

Karen June 25, 2011 at 10:44 pm

You talk as if this only affects the farmers and not the people of Georgia. If the farmers become less productive or go out of business altogether, Georgia will lose billions of dollars in taxes and will have to import its food. You’ll just be subsidizing other economies instead of your own. How does that make sense? It doesn’t.

Don’t expect the rest of us to bail you out either.

Delaware Bob June 24, 2011 at 8:47 am

If indeed the farmers need migrant workers, hire them LEGALLY! Apply for them. When the immigrants come here LEGALLY, they will do the work. When the work is done, they go back home. They WILL NOT remain in this country and take advantage of social services and natural resources. They WILL NOT drop their anchors that we have to pay for, then school them. They can have their children in their own country.

Kelley Lake June 24, 2011 at 10:01 am

We’ve had it! And are glad to finally see us enforcing our laws. We’ve had it with most of the illegals showing up in the police blotter for drug running. I-85 has become a conduit to drug running. We’ve had it with illegals renting houses and turning them into grow or meth houses. We’ve had it with the huge increase in Latino gang activity and deaths daily. We’ve had it with the illegals getting free healthcare at the hospital ER while they go out to the parking lot and get in their $40k Tahoe.

Troy McClure June 25, 2011 at 9:24 am

What kind of business man invests in a business that requires other people to break the law? If these farmers can’t make a profit with citizen labor, they don’t belong in the farming business. If a condition of success is paying third world wages in a first world economy the failure is only a matter of time.

Reality July 5, 2011 at 1:21 pm

I voted for GA Governor Deal and I support him. This ag job business is the publicized tip of the iceberg. This huge flood into all our labor markets by ILLEGAL ALIENS is dragging everyone down except those few who profit greatly. Only a fool would support such economic suicide.

The Hispanic Caucus in the US Congress is blocking the LEGAL guest workers, and has for years. They support illegal alien activity along with our domestic forces that seem to be criminally minded as they aid and abed the illegal aliens. It amazes me how many people in the USA support those who immediately commit a premeditated crime the moment they set foot on USA soil. Shows how many legal USA residents have criminal tendencies also. So why is our country failing so miserably? I can’t imagine.

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