Some of the nation's toughest immigration legislation goes into effect July 1st in Georgia; as the exodus of immigrant workers grows, Georgia farm owners are being left with crops unharvested-despite state action to put people on probation to work in the fields. The goal of the Georgia law is to put Americans and legal immigrants to work while keeping illegal immigrants from taking any jobs that could go to those who play by the labor rules. However, the state is hitting some serious obstacles.
First, there are not enough workers available to make up for the ones who left. An unscientific poll estimates the labor gap to be roughly 11,000 workers. But fields are still full of crops and more labor is needed.
Second, farmers claim the workers on probation are not a viable substitute. Most are unskilled in the field and are having a difficult time justifying the hard work with such little pay. One of the new probation workers told the Associated Press, "Those guys out here weren't out there 30 minutes and they got the bucket and just threw them in the air and say, 'Bonk this, I ain't with this, I can't do this.' They just left, took off across the field walking."
The dilemma clearly illustrates the issues within the national immigration debate. American citizens-even those on probation and in need of work-are oftentimes unwilling to do some of the jobs the country (and in this case the food industry) need done at minimum wage.