Remember when BamaFactCheck caught Rep. Mickey Hammon, the sponsor of Beason-Hammon,
subconsciously erroneously equating Alabama’s Hispanic community’s growth with illegal immigration growth. Some might say this was just a mistake. Others may say it was a Freudian slip of him thinking all Hispanics are illegal. Some might say it revealed the true intentions and motives behind the Anti-immigration law: get rid of all Hispanics, illegal or not.
Where the meant to or not, Hispanics are leaving, and not just the “illegal” ones. As reported in the Montgomery Advertiser.
[Republican Ag. Commissioner] McMillan and Alfa representatives have said that they support secure borders and legislation that makes legal foreign labor available to farmers. They oppose legislation that puts the burden of proof to determine if someone is in the U.S. illegally on the employer.
Now, McMillan said he’s concerned that foreign workers — legal or not — are leaving the state before the law, which opponents have said will lead to racial profiling and harassment of Hispanics, goes into effect.
On recent visits to farms, he said he was told about families of agriculture workers moving because one member is illegal.
“They’re all leaving,” he said, going to states such as Florida and South Carolina that don’t have as stringent immigration laws. “And the timing is critical right now. Our growers are making decisions about ordering strawberry plants for next year. They are weighing spending $30,000 on plants when they don’t know if they’ll have the people to pick the berries.”
Farmers are legitimately concerned:
In Jackson County, Deutscher is worried about next month. That’s when the early varieties of his 55 acres of apples will be ready. He’s already seen farm laborers leaving the area instead of waiting until April 1.
“Right now, my men are on edge about leaving,” Deutscher said about some of the half dozen seasonal workers he hires using E-Verify.
Deutscher welcomes local workers, he said, but hasn’t had a local resident ask for a job in more than 20 years. “And if they did come, they wouldn’t last for more than two hours,” he said about the physically demanding work.
Already Georgia farmers are suffering from the impact of their state’s Arizona-copycat legislation.
Jobs are posted, but no one’s applying
So now, as Georgia’s onions, cucumbers, squash, blackberries, blueberries and watermelons need to be picked, the migrant workers are gone, working in Florida, North Carolina and elsewhere.
“About 75 percent of our farms either don’t have enough workers now, or anticipate not having enough workers when their crops are ready,” Tolar said.
There are about 11,000 unfilled fieldworker jobs, Tolar said, and despite posting the job openings at the state’s labor offices, they remain unfilled. The pay range is about $8 to $12 an hour.
“You can make more money than you would at McDonald’s,” Tolar said. “But McDonald’s is air conditioned, and you can get a cool drink when you want one.”
And you don’t have to pick crops for 12 to 14 hours a day in the summer heat.
“Watermelons are real work,” said the 42-year-old Tolar. “I tried picking blackberries for a day. I couldn’t keep up. The farmer told me it’d be good if I tried another farm down the road.”
Note a few things:
First, note the law is driving away legal workers. These farmers have not been hiring illegals but have been screening their workers through e-verify, already. However, these legal workers, many of them citizens, are now being being driven away by these laws.
Third, if these crops are not harvested, two things will certainly happen: (1) some farms will fail; and (2) basic principles of the supply and demand curve teach that the prices at farmer’s markets, grocery stores, and restaurants will certainly rise because of short supply.