Report: Georgia Immigration Law Will Hurt State, National Economy

Georgia’s strict immigration law, H.B. 87, will likely have a severe negative consequence on the state’s agriculture industry, which will hurt the state and national economies, according to a recently released Center for American Progress report.

Because it requires employers to verify the citizenship status of workers using E-Verify, a federal database, H.B. 87 poses a threat to the agriculture sector’s migrant-dependant labor market. A labor shortage could lead to an overall loss of $300 million to $1 billion for the 2011 growing season, the CAP report states.

Given that agriculture accounts for about 12 percent of Georgia’s gross domestic product, the report argues that growers’ losses will lead to more widespread economic trouble. The report singles out jobs “upstream” of farms, such as food processing and transportation, and predicts U.S. citizens are likely to lose their jobs as the result of H.B. 87.

The report also warns that diminished supply from Georgia will cause the United States to import more produce. Prices will consequently rise on these products and the country will lose control over safety standards.

The CAP report supports the arguments farmers have been making in states considering immigration laws similar to H.B. 87. California farmers concerned about a potential E-Verify law have lobbied Congress to create a special work permit for migrant farm laborers.