published Friday, April 22nd, 2011

Some Georgia businesses fear impact of immigration law

By KATE BRUMBACK

Associated Press

ATLANTA — Some Georgia business owners and farmers say they could have a harder time finding workers because of a bill passed by lawmakers to crack down on illegal immigration — among the toughest in the nation.

Republican Gov. Nathan Deal has pledged to sign the bill, which would require employers to use a federal database to make sure new hires are in the country legally. It also would allow law enforcement to check the status of people being investigated, even during a traffic stop, if they don’t have an acceptable form of identification.

Business owners say the measure could make non-citizen workers reluctant to apply for jobs and make hiring new employees more expensive and cumbersome.

Atlanta chef Chris Hall, who said he relies on an immigrant workforce, opposes the bill in part because of fears his workers could be subject to racial profiling.

“My guy’s supposed to be here at 5, but if he’s pulled over for being brown in his car on the way here and he doesn’t get here until 6, that’s a problem,” said Hall, who co-owns Local Three restaurant. “A lot of us wonder, if you start taking away parts of our labor force, can we replace that?”

Hall, who said he follows federal requirements to ensure his employees are in the country legally, said that in 10 years of working in restaurants he hasn’t seen a U.S. citizen apply for a dishwashing job.

Civil liberties and immigrant rights groups, as well as some Democratic lawmakers, have also raised concerns that possible racial profiling and strict hiring rules could cause both legal and illegal immigrants to leave the state, which they say would diminish the work force and hurt the state’s economy.

The bill’s sponsor, state Rep. Matt Ramsey, R-Peachtree City, has said illegal immigrants are a drain on the state’s resources. He and law enforcement officials dismissed fears of profiling.

“We’ve got to have probable cause to make a stop, probable cause that a criminal or traffic offense has occurred, and probable cause is based on probable cause, not the color of one’s skin,” said Terry Norris, executive director of the Georgia Sheriff’s Association.

The law — which has provisions similar to a crackdown passed in Arizona last year that led to protests and court fights — would allow officers to detain an illegal immigrant, though it’s unlikely cash-strapped local jails will keep people in custody if they haven’t been charged with a crime and won’t be taken into custody by federal authorities, Norris said.

And officers won’t necessarily check immigration status in every instance because they are authorized — but not required — to do so, meaning departments can craft policies that fit their communities, said Frank V. Rotondo, executive director of the Georgia Association of Chiefs of Police.

He said some amount of instruction will likely be necessary for officers in the course of ongoing training.

“We don’t want to have a young, zealous officer attempting to enforce the law in a way he believes is correct and ending up doing something wrong,” he said.

Meanwhile, farmers and others are worried about using the free federal database, E-Verify, to make sure new hires are in the U.S. legally. By July 1, 2013, all companies with more than 10 workers will have to use the system.

Aaron McWhorter of Whitesburg, about 45 miles southwest of Atlanta, already uses E-Verify for his construction company because it has public contracts, but he’s loathe to implement it at his sod farm, he said.

“It’s not difficult to use,” he said. “But the process is kind of time-consuming and protracted because you can’t prescreen people with it.”

E-Verify can only be used once someone is hired. McWhorter said he has had instances in which he put people on payroll and started training them, only to find out the database indicated they were not eligible to work. In some cases it was a mistake because of a misspelled name or other error. But if it’s not, McWhorter said he’s wasted time and money training someone he has to fire.

“Down the road, I see a shortage of labor,” McWhorter said.

Supporters of the bill have said farmers and others can bring in unlimited seasonal workers through a federal guest worker program. However, Bill Brim, a vegetable farmer near Tifton about 180 miles south of Atlanta, said it already costs him time and money to bring in 477 workers using that H-2A visa program. Having to use E-Verify for those workers and the other roughly 200 workers he hires locally will cost him even more.

“We’ll have to hire somebody else to help implement the program,” he said. “It’s going to cost us money and already with H-2A we’re spending so much money on domestic workers and H-2A workers because of all the stuff we have to do.”

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bigbearzzz said...

No that means its gonna be harder for business owners to find CHEAP labor and are going to have to step up and hire more AMERICANS to work now....imagine that!

April 22, 2011 at 7:08 a.m.
moon4kat said...

The illegal immigration issue is more complicated that some like to think. There would be fewer illegal immigrants: If wages for manual labor were higher . . . If US citizens would take the jobs . . . If businesses didn't hire the illegal immigrants . . . If consumers were willing (and able) to pay higher prices for food and other products . . . And, many more "ifs" relating to pricing, the exploitation of ill-educated foreign labor, and the fear they have of being deported if they dare to raise questions about work conditions.

April 22, 2011 at 9:20 a.m.
Wilder said...

The law has no teeth. It doesn't address the illegal aliens that are already employed,e.g., the tens of thousands working in the rug mills in Dalton. Conveniently, it only applies to new hires(you wouldn't want to disrupt the illegal alien workforce already in place).

But the main exclusion is the lack of any penalty for the employers. For example, compare the difference in cost for prosecuting, processing and jailing thousands of illegal aliens, working at a large rug mill, to prosecuting, fining and jailing the CEO of the mill.

The difference is that the CEO made large contributions to the politicians, who, in return, crafted this make believe law to pacify their, not so bright, constituents.

Those complaining, do so with a wink and a nod, which is all part of the ruse. Sort of like Br'er Rabbit's resistance to being thrown into the briar patch.

The illegal aliens, still working under duress, are being kept in line, the wages are held down, and the employers are scot-free. It is a perfect law.

April 22, 2011 at 10:06 a.m.
GodBlessYou said...

Georgia is really going to be hurt by the immigration law because lawmakers and unhuman people who support this type of laws dont see immigrants as humans who contribute at stores & buying gas,etc.etc by purchasing this items. just because they are illegal stores dont stop charging them TAXES.how come lawmakers dont make a law that requires stores and other businesses that sell products to illegals that they must verify they are legal before selling anything to them??? you know why because thats money that GA is receiving from illegals!! So they are contributing with the 6% tax and many other fees that all GA residents have to pay it doesnt matter if we have a green card or not everybody has to pay!! Immigrants dont steal the jobs, they are actually working the Jobs US Citizens dont want because some prefer to live off SSI and Unemployement that illegals are not able to recieve! Here is a question for a US Citizen If you got lay-off from previous job would you prefer a job washing dishes working more than 12 hours a day or to get unemployment for almost a year or more like many qulify right now??? which one would you pick??? Another thing US Citizens say why immigrants dont come legal?? We should do more research on how long it takes, IT is also hard,expensive and stressful process it is to become legal! Lets just think better before we start lossing more of our GA economy because more than likely illegals are going to go contribute into another STATE!

April 28, 2011 at 2:16 a.m.
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