What is in this article?:
- “Show me your papers upheld Monday.
- These kinds of laws make the labor shortage worse.
- Stringent immigration laws hurt ag, overall economy.
- “We can’t get domestic workers to pick cucumbers.”
Last week he outlined the problems the law has imposed on Georgia fruit and vegetable producers.
“Georgia should be the poster child for what not to do with E-Verify (Electronic Employment Verification Program) and illegal worker enforcement,” Hall said.
He said Georgia’s enforcement regulations are “similar to Arizona’s, and E-Verify will be mandatory following a two-year phase-in. All employers who have ten or more workers have to use E-Verify by July 1, 2013,” Hall said.
Hall said even before the 2011 fruit and vegetable harvest got underway reports began coming in about labor shortages. “Harvesters either were not coming in or they were leaving,” he said. “A May survey showed that harvest crews were from 30 percent to 50 percent short.”
He said last June, Governor Deal released a statement saying the newly enacted law would “create 11,000 employment opportunities.” He also suggested use of probationers to take up the slack. “The Department of Corrections did a yeoman’s job of helping,” Hall said. But the labor shortage was not stemmed.
Hall said before the law took effect Georgia’s unemployment rate was 9.6 percent. After the harvest season, the unemployment rate was 9.6 percent. “And about 40 percent of the fruit and vegetable crop was left in the field because of a lack of harvesters,” Hall said.
That amounted to a $180 million loss at the farm gate. The multiplier effect across the state’s economy resulted in a $340 million loss of state revenue.
Hall said agriculture lost 1,512 jobs and total job loss was 3,260, including truckers and others who deal with fresh fruit and vegetable processing and transportation.
“The assumption that E-Verify creates jobs by getting illegal workers out of the state is simply not true,” Hall said. “We can’t get domestic workers to pick cucumbers.”