14 June 2011

Georgia sends criminals to replace undocumented immigrants - Reid J. Epstein - POLITICO.com

With Georgia’s restrictive immigration law set to kick in, Gov. Nathan Deal Tuesday is sending convicted criminals to fill farm jobs vacated by undocumented immigrants fleeing the state.

Deal, a first-term Republican, issued a statement on Tuesday morning calling on the state’s commissioners of labor, corrections and agriculture to work together to connect unemployed probationers with a state agriculture industry now desperate for workers.

“I believe this would be a great partial solution to our current status as we continue to move towards sustainable results with the legal options available,” Deal said in his statement.

Kansas Secretary of State Kris Kobach, who wrote the Arizona and more-restrictive Alabama immigration laws, told POLITICO the state-level immigration battles will soon move from conservative to swing states like Missouri and Pennsylvania.

According to Deal, Georgia has 100,000 probationers, with 8,000 in the state’s heavily-agricultural southwest. A full quarter of the probationers, he said, are unemployed.

Georgia lawmakers in April passed legislation that mirrors Arizona’s controversial 2010 measure. The Peach State will require businesses to confirm employees’ immigration status and gives law enforcement power to check whether suspects are in the country legally.

The governor’s suggestion comes days after Georgia’s agriculture commissioner, Gary Black, delivered to Deal a survey that found state farm owners have 11,080 jobs they now need to fill.

The vast majority of those jobs pay $15 or less and last between one and six months, Black’s survey found.

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