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HB 87 doesn’t work; denying migrant labor hurts our state

POSTED: December 30, 2011 1:00 a.m.

The Georgia agricultural industry has suffered tremendously since HB 87 was passed.

It is true that there are certain visas available for seasonal agricultural workers; however, these require a labor certification, which is a lengthy and expensive process during which the employer must spend thousands of dollars running recruitment advertisements to prove to the government what the employer and everyone else already knows — that there are not enough workers available to do the work.

Assuming the labor certification is done correctly, the employer may request that foreign nationals be given temporary visas to come here to do the seasonal work. The employer must also guarantee that they will provide housing, three meals a day and transportation, and must get all this done and everything filed at least 45 days prior to needing the workers. Next year, repeat.

This doesn't even get major farming operations all the workers they need, even with their money and attorneys. It is almost useless for your average farmer.

I have difficulty understanding why we continue to insist on punishing lawbreakers by cutting off our nose to spite our collective face. Virtually every scholar or economist who has studied the issue has concluded that immigration grows our economy and negatively impacts the wages of few, if any, U.S. citizen workers. As producers and consumers, immigrants increase both supply and demand from an economic standpoint, definitely a good thing.

Furthermore, we are talking about people who are guilty of perhaps a similar offense to the proverbial man who steals a loaf of bread to feed his starving children. (Although illegal entry and illegal presence are civil violations of the law rather than crimes, and by participating in our economy immigrants are actually helping us.)

We are a majority Christian society, and many of us believe that gives us a higher moral standing than many other societies. So we must not lose sight of the fact that there is no part of the Bible that indicates that Jesus Christ would have condoned forcing parents to make the heart-wrenching decision of taking their children back to the parent's home country, which their children have never known, to a life of poverty, rampant crime and lack of opportunity, or leaving their children here with relatives or in foster care only to be able to see them again when they are old enough to travel unaccompanied to see their parents outside the U.S., assuming they can afford the plane ticket.

I think the parable of The Sheep and the Goats (Matthew 25:33-46) is abundantly clear. But if anyone needs more, consider the following: "When a foreigner resides among you in your land, do not mistreat them. The foreigner residing among you must be treated as your native-born. Love them as yourself, for you were foreigners in Egypt. I am the Lord your God." Leviticus 19:33-34.

David Kennedy
Gainesville



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