After local farmers in Georgia complained of the effect the harsh crackdown on immigration was having on their business, Governor Nathan Deal offered a controversial solution: Hire people on probation to work the fields instead of undocumented immigrants.
A recent (unscientific) survey showed that there were upwards of 10 thousand job openings in the agricultural sector in Georgia since the Governor signed a law similar to Arizona's SB 1070. The new laws give police the right to stop and arrest anybody who they believe is in the country illegally (read: Latino).
Ironically enough, the survey was requested by Gov. Deal himself after many farmers warned him there would be a mass exodus of their agricultural workers from the state if the law was passed. Although Gov. Deal was willing to make the bold statement about hiring those on probation in a statement that read: "I believe this would be a great partial solution our current status as we continue to move towards sustainable results with the legal options available," he was thoroughly unwilling to discuss the proposal during a televised press conference, reports MSNBC.
In response, state corrections officers sent over some of the 15 thousand unemployed Georgia residents on probation to work a vegetable farm as part of a new program matching offenders with employers."There was a couple who just left early, just couldn't handle the heat and stuff," said Stan Cooper, the state's director of probation operations. "But there were several who stuck it out, seven, eight hours in the field."
Local farmer Sam Watson said, "It's hard work. It's hot. It's a lot of bending, can be long hours."
Watson also complained that he was unable to hire as many employees as he normally does and placed the blame squarely on the harsh new immigration laws, saying they have driven away most of the Latino workers he usually hired. The result? He was forced to leave 13 acres of produce to rot. "We've got to come up with something," Watson said. "There's no way we can continue if we don't have a labor source to pull from."