“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 &lquo;send them home,&rquo; 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.”Except of course HB 87 doesn’t just send them home: it also locks up as many as it can catch, to the profit of private prison company CCA, at the expense of we the taxpayers.
That’s as quoted by Jay Bookman in the AJC 17 June 2011, Ga’s farm-labor crisis playing out as planned:
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.
It might be funny if it wasn’t so sad.
Yes, they’re panicking by deploying probationers. Like that’s going to end well, as Bookman notes.
Thanks to the resulting labor shortage, Georgia farmers have been forced to leave millions of dollars’ worth of blueberries, onions, melons 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.
Bookman quotes the quantification of the problem:
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 ordered 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.Surprise, surprise!
The results of that investigation have now been released. According to survey of 230 Georgia farmers conducted by Agriculture Commissioner Gary Black, farmers expect to need more than 11,000 workers at some point over the rest of the season, a number that probably underestimates the real need, since not every farmer in the state responded to the survey.
The pain this is causing is real. People are going to lose their crops, and in some cases their farms. The small-town businesses that supply those farms with goods and services are going to suffer as well. For economically embattled rural Georgia, this could be a major blow.Maybe people in south Georgia should demand the state repeal HB 87.
We don’t need a private prison in Lowndes County, Georgia, to profit CCA at the expense of south Georgia farmers and taxpayers. Spend that tax money on rehabilitation and education instead.