Georgia’s Anti-Immigration Law

Georgia followed Arizona’s lead and passed stringent new legislation targeting illegal immigrants and those who harbor them.   Supporters of the new law state that Georgia enacted anti-immigration law (House Bill 87) with the overarching goal of saving money.

Supporters of the anti-immigration law contend that illegal immigrants are burdening Georgia’s hospitals, jails and public schools. Further, they assert that illegal immigrants are taking jobs in a period of record unemployment in the State. It was clear on its face that this piece of legislation would not have the anticipated result of saving money for the state or opening up jobs for citizens that were unemployed.

Prior to the passage of the law, there were rallies that opposed the legislation and urged the governor to veto the bill. Democrats vigorously fought House Bill 87 arguing that it would damage Georgia’s agricultural and tourism industries and force the state to defend itself against costly court battles. It was passed. Georgia’s Governor Nathan Deal (Republican) signed the anti-immigration legislation into law.

In response to this poorly thought out piece of legislation, thousands Georgia residents rallied against the recently enacted Georgia anti-immigration law House Bill 87. The Georgia Anti-Immigration law has had serious economic consequences for the state. It has been reported that Georgia’s tough anti-illegal-immigrant law drove a sizable fraction of the migrant labor pool out of the state, and as a result, “millions of dollars’ worth of blueberries, onions, melons and other crops [are] unharvested and rotting in the fields.”[i]

“The jobs the migrants did paid an average of eight ($8)/hour, without benefits, a wage that is so low that the state’s probationed prisoners have turned it down.[ii] Guest-writing in the Atlantic’s economics section, Adam Ozimek doesn’t believe that the farms would be viable if they paid wages that legal American workers would take: “it’s quite possible that the wages required to get workers to do the job are so high that it’s no longer profitable for farmers to plant the crops in the first place.” [iii]

Georgia’s tough anti-illegal-immigrant law has created a labor shortage in one the state’s largest industries.[iv]  Hopefully, it is clear to the supporters of this poorly thought out piece of legislation that this law should be repealed. If not, it is certain that there will be a case filed by the ACLU and Southern Poverty Law Center barring its implementation in Georgia.

Sources: “Illegal Immigration Reform and Enforcement Act of 2011″; “Georgia’s anti-immigrant law leaves millions in crops rotting in the fields” Cory Doctorow, BOINGBOING, Wednesday, Jun 22, 2011. HB57- Illegal Immigration Reform and Enforcement Act of 2011, Dustin, Georgia Politico, January 28, 2011. georgiabulletin.org. “Local ministers: HB 87 is NOT what Jesus would do” Gwynedd Stuart, Creative Loafing, April 25, 2011.

[1] “Georgia’s anti-immigrant law leaves millions in crops rotting in  the fields” Cory Doctorow, BOINGBOING, Wednesday, Jun 22, 2011.

[2] Ibid.

[3] Ibid.

[4] Ibid.

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