Don’t tell me you’re surprised that Gov. Nathan Deal is having second thoughts about cracking down on businesses that hire illegally. I’m certainly not.
Deal is playing the very same game that Georgia’s elected officials have played for years — excoriating illegal immigrants on the campaign trail but refusing to pass tough laws that would force employers to hire legally.
Here’s the dirty little secret that everybody knows but no one wants to admit: some Georgia industries, including agriculture, are utterly dependent on illegal labor. No matter how much farmers are willing to pay, few Americans are going to take on the back-breaking, bone-wearying miserable labor of picking peaches or Vidalia onions. Georgia needs those undocumented workers.
As I wrote in a column last year:
During the go-go ‘90s, construction managers, agricultural concerns and carpet manufacturers demanded the cheap, pliant labor that illegal immigrants were happy to provide.
In 1998, the