Millions of dollars worth of crops are rotting in Georgia fields, an unintended result of the state’s harsh immigration reform law that has reportedly driven away many of the illegal immigrants who were employed as agricultural workers, according to multiple reports.
The law, set to take effect on July 1, allows law enforcement officers to inquire on immigration status when questioning lawfully detained criminal suspects, enforce prison sentences or fines for people who knowingly transport illegal immigrants and imposes penalties on anyone convicted of using fake documents to attain a job.
Undocumented workers have typically comprised of a majority of the state’s agricultural and migrant workers. However, the American Foreign Press reports that many of those workers have fled Georgia in fear of deportation, causing some farmers to reluctantly employ former convicts instead.
Georgia labor officials report a shortage of about 11,000 workers in the agriculture sector.
Some organizations are protesting the legislation and the detrimental effect it could potentially have on state agriculture. WSBTV News reports that the Georgia Families United for Economic Survival recently presented stacks of signed petitions against the law to the governor’s office, which were hand-delivered by the legal children of undocumented workers.