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Democrats seek repeal of immigration crackdown

In this May 2011 photo, a field worker empties a bucket of Vidalia onions into a waiting truck in Lyons.

In this May 2011 photo, a field worker empties a bucket of Vidalia onions into a waiting truck in Lyons.

ATLANTA — Democratic lawmakers said Monday they will seek to repeal a law that launched a crackdown last year on illegal immigrants in Georgia, but their small caucus lacks the votes to overturn it in the Republican-dominated General Assembly.

Rep. Pedro Marin and Rep. Lynmore James plan to sponsor the repeal, though they have not yet submitted the necessary legislation. The repeal will be among the top priorities of an agenda that Democrats plan to unveil at a news conference today.

"I believe we have a broken system in immigration," Marin said in an interview. "I can see that we need to fix it, but again, immigration is a federal issue and the last thing we want to have is each state doing their own thing."

Marin said the crackdown was harming the ability of the agriculture and manufacturing sectors to find workers in the middle of an already weak economy. His co-sponsor, James, is a farmer who said in a statement that families cannot afford "to have politicians playing with their food."

The agriculture industry has complained that the crackdown has discouraged Hispanic field hands, including many who are illegal immigrants, from coming to Georgia to harvest labor-intensive fruits and vegetables.

The Democratic caucus has scheduled a hearing Thursday where its members will hear about the effects of the crackdown in rural towns. Farmers have complained of labor problems since the law passed last year, though Agriculture Commissioner Gary Black, a Republican, said earlier this month it wasn't clear whether any of the reported shortages were a direct result of the law.

Rep. Matt Ramsey, R-Peachtree City, accused illegal immigrants of financially burdening the state and said the supporters of the crackdown "will oppose any effort to diminish its provisions."

Starting this year, the law requires that businesses with 500 or more employees use a federal database called E-Verify to check whether new hires are eligible to legally work in the country. That requirement will be gradually expanded to include companies with 10 or more employees by July 2013.

The law makes it a felony crime with hefty penalties to use false information or documents when applying for a job. It created an immigration review board to investigate complaints about government officials not complying with state laws related to immigration. Public officials can be fined or even removed from office if they fail to the use the federal E-Verify database to verify the eligibility of new hires or those who apply for public assistance, such as food stamps.

A federal judge in June blocked parts of Georgia's law pending the outcome of a legal challenge filed by immigrant rights and civil liberties groups. One of the blocked sections authorizes police to check the immigration status of suspects who don't have proper identification and to detain illegal immigrants. The other creates a state penalty for people who knowingly and willingly transport or harbor illegal immigrants while committing another crime.

The state has challenged the judge's decision to block those parts of the law, and a hearing on the injunction is set for March 1 in a federal appeals court.

Comments

Abytaxpayer 2 years, 2 months ago

Again more unscrupulous Politicians who under the disguise of giving a hand up while in fact they are only trying to buy a segment of our society and their votes. If these Politicians really cared they would be pushing the Feds to correct the problem and not trying to tell Georgians it is a Fed problem but you have to live with their lack of actions on this matter NO MATTER the consequences. While they know their small caucus lacks the votes to overturn the law they also know their grandstanding just might “BUY” them a few more votes next election. Sadly every illegal (law-breakers) who is treated like a legal immigrate devalues the work and effort made by every other legal immigrate that becomes a US citizen.

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Sister_Ruby 2 years, 2 months ago

Don't you mean the Illegal Immagration crackdown? Words are SO IMPORTANT!! I would think that Journalists would REALIZE THAT!!!!!!!!

(....or maybe you do and you just want to tilt the scale a little bit to the left?.....for those that just read the headlines and look at the pictures)

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Sister_Ruby 2 years, 2 months ago

.....and OH by the way there are thousands upon thousands of able-bodied people out there who COULD do this work if they would just get off their sofas and their porch chairs and do it. RIGHT??

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Abytaxpayer 2 years, 2 months ago

Yes there are thousands of able bodied people who could do the work, but there are Politicians who have bought them, their self esteem and most importantly their votes with entitlements. And to think it used to be a bad thing to buy a fellow human and then controlled the person’s life including how much work he did, how much medial care he got, what kind of house he lived in, how much food he had to eat, etc etc. It used to be called Slavery and was done through public sales and everyone knew who the Owners were, now it is more discreetly done by political promises of a easy life or a hard life if you fail to support your Political (Owner) Representative.

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waltspecht 2 years, 2 months ago

What part of ILLEGAL can't these folks understand? There are litterally thousands waiting for a legal chance to enter our Country and contribute to Society. Then there are thousands that flaunt their contempt for our laws by entering without proper authorization. Plus there are thousands of our Citizens who will hire these people and exploit the fact that they are here illegally. Providing cheap labor and a strong back. If the Worker programs are utilized, these employers feel they will be too closely scrutinized, and will have to actually pay a living wage. I find it hard to believe there is any job that can't find individuals to work it, if the pay is sufficient.

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TrixibelleBento 2 years, 2 months ago

Everyone knows that this is a thinly-veiled attempt to get more Dems on the election rolls. Put prisoners out there just like they do when doing road upkeep. It's back-breaking work; maybe some folks would rather get a job and not break the law next time if they knew that they wouldn't get to sit on their backsides and watch cable TV all day.

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rock 2 years, 2 months ago

WE have enough people in Georgia that can do this work. The problem is minimum wage is set at ?7.50? perhour while a wet will work for 3.00 perhour. Then just the basic requirements that OSHA mandates for the Health and Comfort of employees is strict and enforceable, should a worker complain. A wet does not know his rights for water and Port-a-potties, does not know he is entitled to breaks and overtime. Therefore wet laborers, are cheap labor, uninformed labor, and cannot make wave with the threat of deportation looming over their heads. Then the american farmer being aware of these same OSHA is complaining, because his overhead goes up with each of the requirements, thereby affecting his ability to get the new tractors, the 300,000 house and all the amenities he is depriving a worker of. Some will say a farmer is broke but how many farmers do you see w/o a new Dually, New tractors, kids is private school and a better standard of living then his counter parts in the regular world.

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