By Mariano Cardoso:
Georgia is becoming a state that has food, but no immigrants to cook it, and is abundant in fruit, but has nobody to pick it. How extreme do things need to get before lawmakers open their eyes to the damage the state’s new anti-immigration law, House Bill 87, is incurring?
The Atlanta Journal Constitution reports labor shortages in Georgia’s restaurant industry following the passage of the state’s tough new immigration enforcement law:
Nearly half of the 523 restaurateurs across the state who voluntarily participated in the electronic survey this month are having trouble finding workers, a summary of the survey results shows. That summary, however, doesn’t say how many pinned the labor shortages on Georgia’s new anti-illegal immigration law.
However, Georgia’s $14.1 billion restaurant industry has been paying very close attention to HB 87. After the Legislature passed the law in April, the Georgia Restaurant Association raised concerns that it would create additional costs for small businesses, and could possibly trigger boycotts targeting the state. The association stated that it supports comprehensive immigration reform, but only at the federal level.
The restaurant industry is not alone in its criticisms.
Georgia farmers have also complained of severe labor shortages following the passage of HB 87. They say the new law is scaring away the migrant workers they depend on to pick their fruits and vegetables, potentially putting hundreds of millions of dollars in crops at risk. A state survey of farmers released last month showed they had 11,080 jobs open.
Yes, that is an impressive number of jobs if you can ignore the fact that they were created as a result of intimidating immigrants. However, the “creation” of these jobs may sound like good news to some, but it has brought with it some grave consequences. Rather than providing opportunities for “natives,” who aren’t interested in doing anything much with food besides eating it, Georgians in the food industry are clear on how much they rely on their undocumented workforce…even if their legislators aren’t.