Thursday, June 30, 2011

Georgia & Immigration

Back in May Georgia gov Nathan Deal signed HB 87, sweeping and draconian immigration "reform", into law. A couple weeks later, Deal ordered an investigation into the impact of said law. Apparently forethought is for suckers. Anyway, results were such:
Georgia farmers have been forced to leave millions of dollars’ worth of blueberries, onions, melons and other crops unharvested and rotting in the fields. It has also put state officials into something of a panic at the damage they’ve done to Georgia’s largest industry.
So Deal came up with the idea that farmers hire people who are on probation and are currently unemployed. That idea? Not working so well, either:
The first batch of probationers started work last week at a farm owned by Dick Minor, president of the Georgia Fruit and Vegetable Growers Association. In the coming days, more farmers could join the program.

So far, the experiment at Minor’s farm is yielding mixed results. On the first two days, all the probationers quit by mid-afternoon, said Mendez, one of two crew leaders at Minor’s farm.

“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,’” said Jermond Powell, a 33-year-old probationer. “They just left, took off across the field walking.”
Well.

In protest of HB 87, the ACLU and others sued the state and received an injunction on two parts this past Monday: one that would authorize police to arrest immigrants and take them to jail and the other that punished people who knowingly transport or harbor immigrants. However, the rest is still scheduled to go forward as of now--and it starts tomorrow. Here, courtesy of the AJC, are the details:
Taking effect Friday:

* People who use fake identification to get a job in Georgia could face up to 15 years in prison and up to $250,000 in fines.

* A seven-member Immigration Enforcement Review Board will be established to investigate complaints about local and state government officials not enforcing state laws related to immigration. Spokesmen for Republican Gov. Nathan Deal, Lt. Gov. Casey Cagle and House Speaker David Ralston said this week that their offices were working on appointing people to this panel.

* Government officials who violate state laws requiring cities, counties and state government agencies to use the federal E-Verify work authorization program could face fines up to $10,000 and removal from office.

* The state Agriculture Department will be directed to study the possibility of creating Georgia's own guest-worker program. Some Georgia employers have complained that the federal government's guest-worker program is too burdensome and expensive.
There are other parts taking effect at later dates.

Yesterday and this morning I read two articles that dovetail nicely with this topic--one very directly related. First (FYI: it's nine pages long): Republican mayor in the South becomes unlikely advocate for immigrants. As Mayor Bridges said: "When I became mayor, I decided I was going to be the mayor for everybody, including people who have no voice otherwise." Second is Slacktivist's Amnesty at the DMV, who notes: "But despite doing something illegal, something against the law, I was never in danger of arrest, because while driving a car with expired inspection stickers is “illegal,” it is not criminal. It’s a civil violation. It’s fashionable these days to pretend that this distinction doesn’t exist — at least when the subject is immigration — but it’s a significant and essential distinction."

The court battles are far from over on HB 87 as both sides promise to keep fighting.