Laws sometimes have unintended consequences, and laws hastily passed in time of high political passions inevitably do.
The state’s agricultural commissioner estimates Georgia farmers will need 11,000 more farm workers over the rest of the season and they’re not getting them. Attempts by desperate state officials to cajole the jobless and 2,000 unemployed criminal probationers into doing fieldwork have been almost comically ineffective. Once they get a taste of stoop labor in the crushing heat, they’re gone.Hey, Lowndes County can become a laughingstock, too, by opening a private prison ! Or we could reject that and spend those tax dollars on rehabilitation and educat ion.
One frequently repeated assertion is that the farmers could simply raise the wages. In the improbable event the farmers could afford to do so, and in the even more improbable event that city dwellers actually showed up to work in the fields, Georgia would be at a huge competitive disadvantage in the price-sensitive field of commercial agriculture with other farm states — states that, for instance, don’t have punitive anti-immigrant laws.
The hiding field hands aren’t the only ones hurting. There is a real danger of farmers losing their farms and even more businesses shuttering on the main streets of small farming towns.
The consequences of these harsh anti-immigrant laws were certainly unintended, but they were also eminently predictable.