Georgia shoots itself in the onion fields

WASHINGTON — There are undoubtedly lots of voters who believe the most scurrilous charges against illegal workers — they’ve brought a crime wave to the country; they’re eroding American values; they’re lazy grifters who come here to exploit the social safety net. There may even be a few politicians who believe those things.

But most elected officials know better. They know that most immigrants — including those who crossed the border illegally — shore up the economy, pay taxes and adopt American values. They know that Mexicans and Guatemalans and Bolivians take low-wage jobs in restaurants and poultry plants and onion fields that most native-born Americans won’t do.

Still, those politicians often lack the courage to tell voters those truths. Instead, they pose and pander, engaging in a dangerous nativist rhetoric that thrills the crowds and fills the campaign coffers. And brings in votes.

Such was the case with Georgia Gov. Nathan Deal, who ran a hard-right campaign in a crowded field for the GOP nomination last year. Now, the governor is a hostage to his rhetoric. Though immigrant advocates and business executives have begged him to veto an extreme anti-immigrant measure that passed the Georgia Legislature last week, he says he will sign the bill.

It’s likely to have far-reaching, largely negative consequences for Georgia’s economy, which is already struggling with an unemployment rate higher than the national average. It will hurt the state’s image as an exemplar of a tolerate New South.

And it will hamper the state’s $69 billion agricultural industry, which depends on immigrant labor.That’s why a group of 270 farmers and business executives sent Georgia lawmakers a letter earlier this month urging them not to pass Arizona-style legislation.

They made some logical arguments, but the letter was too little, too late. Georgia’s business leaders share the blame for the ugly mood that swept the Gold Dome this year and left this malicious legislation in its wake.

Anti-illegal-immigration forces have been gaining traction in Georgia politics for several years now. The Georgia Farm Bureau and the Georgia Chamber of Commerce, among other business lobbies, should have come out years ago with a major public relations campaign aimed at ameliorating those cruel and misguided forces.

Indeed, the business lobby is largely aligned with Republicans, who control state politics. The GOP walks in lockstep, usually, with business interests who want lower taxes, less regulation and various arcane perks aimed at particular business sectors. So why haven’t business leaders spent the last few years trying to lower the temperature among Republican lawmakers and their constituents?

Perhaps there are many reasons, but one is certainly an unflattering truth they’d rather not discuss: Farmers and landscapers and poultry plant managers are largely dependent on illegal workers. There simply aren’t enough legal immigrants available to do those jobs because U.S. immigration quotas don’t allow very many unskilled laborers into the country.

Oh, the agricultural lobby pretends otherwise. Georgia Farm Bureau’s Web site says that “. . .nothing in our policy supports illegal immigration or amnesty. Georgia Farm Bureau does not endorse illegal activity of any kind. . . .Our policy is intended to oppose laws that might discriminate against farm workers who are legally in this country.”

Well, to be blunt, that’s just balderdash. In the ‘90s, Georgia farmers pressured their Congressional delegation to call off federal agents, who were conducting raids on illegal agricultural workers.

The “amnesty” that the Georgia Farm Bureau derides — in the form of a comprehensive bill granting illegal workers a path to citizenship — would help its members solve their labor shortage. It’s too bad the organization has been too shortsighted and cowardly to put its considerable influence behind such a measure.

163 comments Add your comment

Sean

April 20th, 2011
9:59 am

Did I get the first?

Keep Up the Good Fight!

April 20th, 2011
10:02 am

And the rants against “illegals” begin….

Peadawg

April 20th, 2011
10:02 am

“in the form of a comprehensive bill granting illegal workers a path to citizenship” – There already is a path Cynthia…how many times do we have to go over the same thing?

“an extreme anti-immigrant measure” – FLAT OUT LIE. I’ll let you figure out what word you’re missing in the sentence…you’re a smart girl (I think). You can do it.

Last week was a good week for you…good articles all around. I knew it wouldn’t last though…back to the loony articles it seems. I had hope for, Cynthia…..o well.

Ken Duvall

April 20th, 2011
10:05 am

What a bunch of crap. Obviously Ms Tucker is just another “hand ringer” who has accepted the slanted verbage of the left-leaning liberals whose desire is to turn America into another Third World entity. Illegals pay taxes? No way simply because they DO NOT HAVE (legal) SOCIAL SECURITY cards with which to assign their “taxes.” Additionally, if they are so valuable to the U.S. then why is the influx of American dollars (via Western Union, Etc.) Mexico’s greatest GDP? Get a grip and get your facts straight.

Don't Tread

April 20th, 2011
10:11 am

I suppose the new standard for “tolerance” includes tolerance for illegal activity.

I suppose now we should embrace (”tolerate”) murderers, rapists, robbers, gangbangers, and child molesters for their “diverse views”.

Deal SHOULD sign that bill, because that’s one of the reasons people elected him and not Barnes. The sooner we persuade the illegals to leave, the better off we’ll be.

kayaker 71

April 20th, 2011
10:12 am

I don’t think that anyone is really against GA farmers who want to get their onions in the sack. But when they do it with illegal labor, it underscores their complicity in ignoring the law. Bozo and his gang are no help. I also don’t think that ignoring the fact that they are illegals, sucking off our system of infrastructure, anchor babies, health care and food stamps adds any credibility to the problem. Admit it. Bozo and his gang of thieves need to establish a temporary worker program to allow workers to legally cross our borders during harvest time, then exit our country as soon as their work is done. But don’t hold your breath. Don’t blame the Republicans, CT. If Bozo had any balls, the problem would have been solved already.

ctucker

April 20th, 2011
10:13 am

Ken@10:05, Wrong, wrong, wrong. Even with fake SS cares, the US govt accepts their taxes. And they never get any SS benefits.

godless heathen

April 20th, 2011
10:14 am

10% unemployment and onions crying to be picked. What’s the problem?

casual observer

April 20th, 2011
10:15 am

Illegals are Dem vote’s period. That’s why Libs fight for them on every front. Also with disappearing illegals so go all the social hand-outs. This country survived without Illegal worker tax money for a couple of centuries now it’s an issue? BS States are going broke under the crush of Illegal’s swarming and bogging down their programs, jails and courts. But Libs like Ms. Tucker can’t see past a Democrat vote or a growing dependant class in America that keeps us on the road to Socialism.

Stonethrower

April 20th, 2011
10:15 am

So if undocumented immigrants don’t pay taxes then those who hire them don’t withhold money and pay under the table in order to keep more money. The consequence of this bill will be the unemployment rate for Georgia will plummet with the availability of jobs the real true bloods were too good to do in the past. Swamp land for cheap………
anyone?

Joe The Plumber Too

April 20th, 2011
10:19 am

CT, you never cease to amaze me. Where do you get your facts: you state ILLEGAL aliens 1) shore up the economy… bull. 2) pay taxes….. paying tax on the beer and smokes they purchase with cash after the broodmare and ILLEGAL alien Juniors go through line paying for a shopping cart full of food with an EBT card is not paying taxes. 3) Adopt American values… please, that is the biggest load of garbage you have written in quite some time. 4) malicious legislation…..if you are really worried about the businesses not having enough labor at a rate they can afford, perhaps you could get behind a simple solution that could really bolster your savior oblowhard in the polls by getting a handle on unemployment. Make it a condition that you must accept work in one of these industries to continue receiving benefits until something better comes along. Perhaps that would get some of the larda$$’s off the couch watching ofra and judge judy. I’ll bet the majority of these people would be looking for work real fast then. As far as the ILLEGAL amongst us, another solution could be, get rid of the stupid drug laws that lock away so many of our people and use the free space to lock up the border jumpers. Win-Win for everybody.

The Nerve

April 20th, 2011
10:19 am

“….veto an extreme anti-immigrant measure….”

Well, made it to paragraph 4 today before I had to stop reading because of a blatant, out and out lie again. Little further than usual though. Still hope to make it through one of these one day that doesn’t contain blatant lies.

Gator Joe

April 20th, 2011
10:19 am

Now that Georgia has passed it’s version of the “Show Me Your Papers” Act, what’s next breaking in doors, if Spanish is heard coming from a house? When Hispanics, African-Americans, and other minorities become a larger part of the US population, if not the majority, I hope their memories are short about how they have been treated by white America.

casual observer

April 20th, 2011
10:21 am

World net Daily:

Twelve Americans are murdered every day by illegal aliens, according to statistics released by Rep. Steve King, R-Iowa. If those numbers are correct, it translates to 4,380 Americans murdered annually by illegal aliens. That’s 21,900 since Sept. 11, 2001.

mythbuster

April 20th, 2011
10:23 am

Illegals who are working with false Social Security cards have both federal income and FICA taxes deducted from their paycheck. Also Georgia income tax.

They then go to the gas station and pay the fuel tax. Then the grocery store and pay taxes. Then the restaurants and pay taxes. Then Walmart and pay sales tax. They rent and the owner of the house/unit they live in pays property taxes. And the employer pays all taxes on their employment.

The Social Security and Medicare taxes are not assigned to any account number. The funds sit in limbo. There have been attempts to have the funds assigned to the closest number that is legal, but Congress will not address the issue, the bills never get out of committee.

Illegals pay taxes. They convert the paychecks to cash and operate in a cash economy. What they do not get is a Social Security check or a Medicare card. Maybe down the road they will be on Medicaid.

Now if the employer is paying in cash, then all of the federal and state taxes withheld are not paid. Then only the consumption taxes are paid.

Kamchak

April 20th, 2011
10:23 am

WHAT PART OF HIRING IAs IS ILLEGAL DO YOU NOT UNDERSTAND?

Just thought I’d get that out early.

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

Welcome back Ms. Tucker.

Peadawg

April 20th, 2011
10:25 am

“WHAT PART OF HIRING IAs IS ILLEGAL DO YOU NOT UNDERSTAND?”

She’s obviously pretty hard-headed and still doesn’t understand. Thanks for reminding her, Kam.

Connections

April 20th, 2011
10:27 am

This bill is BAD, morally & financially DISASTROUS! Tucker understands, too bad the uninformed masses don’t know what is about to happen. And appalling that those who “believe” & subscribe to Tanton, CCC, Heritage, FAIR, KKK and affiliated groups are able to spread so much misinformation and hate while duping Georgians and good Americans. Guess that’s one way to “feel” superior.

carlosgvv

April 20th, 2011
10:27 am

So, if we don’t let criminals “shore up the economy, pay taxes and adopt American values”, we are “shortsighted and cowardly”. How many other countries in the world knowingly let in millions of illegal aliens? If the answer is none, then, do they know something we don’t or do we know something they don’t? Which do you think is the most likely?

Sean

April 20th, 2011
10:28 am

Well… the tea partiers said that they want things done and no more compromises… This is just one of them.

If corporations / farmers sleep with the devil to get who they want elected.. there is no guarantee corporations / farmers will get what they want.

SonnyFab

April 20th, 2011
10:31 am

I have no sympathy for any onion farmer, restaurant owner, lawn care business operator, poultry producer, or home builder who has decided that the best business model to adopt is one that is in direct violation of the law. If you set up your business so that you need to use illegal labor to make a profit, you should not be in business.
CTs assertion that we need illegal laborers to take jobs that “most native-born Americans won’t do” is specious. Most American won’t do most jobs, but that doesn’t mean that those jobs cannot be filled by people with the legal right to work in the US. The principle of the free market is that people will do any work if you pay them an amount they feel appropriately compensates them for that work. Hence, if you offer wages below what people are willing to take for the work you offer, you get no workers. This is how wages increase. The black market, which is the operating principle behind business models which require hiring illegal immigrants, dictates that workers will take less money for work because they are not able to freely compete as labor, since they do not have the right to work. The black market allows these businesses to exploit the status of illegal immigrants and pay lower than reasonable wages to workers.
I do not understand how anyone can logically support a system which allows business owners to operate outside the law and which allows those same business owners to exploit a section of the workforce. Ending hiring of illegal immigrants by businesses will, in the short run, hurt illegal laborers who will not be able to find work, but will ultimately allow the market to set reasonable wages for all businesses, and legal laborers will fill these jobs while making reasonable wages.
I oppose the illegal oppression in terms of wages and working conditions of illegal immigrants, and I propose that the best solution to this oppression is to end the hiring of all illegal immigrants, which is what this bill seeks to do.

Joe The Plumber Too

April 20th, 2011
10:32 am

Hater Joe, that is a stupid post. I don’t work in White America, I don’t work in Black America and I don’t work in Brown America,l I work in America. As a mixed race man thriving in Atlanta, the most racism I encounter is from my darker skinned brothers and sisters. I am an uncle tom for not supporting oblowhard, doesn’t matter my reasoning. That is STUPID, I support people who have the most in common with my belief system, and barry boy ain’t it. It is time for everyone to stop thinking colors and realize that we are all Americans and the ILLEGAL aliens aren’t. There is a honest path they can take to join the club, just as each and every one of our ansesters did. Jumping the fence isn’t it.

Pablo

April 20th, 2011
10:33 am

Cynthia:

I can safely assume that you do not speak Spanish, and therefore do not get to watch Spanish-language TV or listen to Spanish language Radio. If you did, you would listen how they, on a daily basis, rant and rail against the “racist gringos” who will not let them come and go as they please and refuse to grant them citizenship just because they crossed the border. I cringe every time I see them on Univision and Telemundo demanding their “rights”. Moreover, there has been a number of programs to recruit migrant farm workers, which can be adjusted to cater to the needs of the agricultural industry of this Nation.
Unfortunately, the democratic party is in bed with this violation of our national sovereingty (Luis Gutierrez (D-IL) comes to mind as the champion for the illegals) and refuses to see other viable alternatives to the influx of illegals to this country. If you reward a legal way to accomplish what is desired in terms of the workforce needed and make it difficult to come in illegally, you solve the problem without causing major disruptions.
However, why would democrats dare to anger a possibly huge voting block?

Kamchak

April 20th, 2011
10:37 am

MountainMan

April 20th, 2011
10:38 am

Pablo, You can confirm this, but Telemundo also instructs illegals how to game the health care system by always going to the emergency room for care and take an ambulance because they will have to write it off but a taxi will demand money on the spot.

Halftrack

April 20th, 2011
10:41 am

CT; Illegals do not pay taxes like you and I do. They come here; get low paying jobs at the greed of the employer. They say that they have 6 dependents to avoid paying income taxes. This is allowed on their hiring forms. Employers also avoid paying other benefits, as they make rules that you have to be employed 1 year or longer to get them. Migrants are here today and gone tomorrow. Of course all of us benefit with low prices for our food. At the same time we are eroding our own culture, jobs, standard of living due to illegals and a government that abandons its duty to control the borders and enforce immigration. Our economy is collapsing today – - – look around.

Peadawg

April 20th, 2011
10:41 am

Kam,

So she said “Democrats must lead way on immigration” and that they should crack down on employers who hire illegally….so why is she against it now? Is it because Republicans are the ones cracking down? Same thing goes for Bookman…he always said that we should go after the employers. This bill does exactly that. So why the fuss?

Pablo

April 20th, 2011
10:44 am

MountainMan:

Not only you are correct, but it only gets worse. I used to work at a doctor’s office who had a patient who worked at the time with the Mexican Consulate in Atlanta. She told me once (again, while railing against the “racist gringos”) how many of her “paisanos” would run up hundreds of thousands of dollars in bills at Grady getting all sorts of medical treatment, only to dissapear before being released from the hospital, leaving the hospital (and the “racist gringos”) holding the bag for the cost of their care…

Kamchak

April 20th, 2011
10:46 am

So she said “Democrats must lead way on immigration” and that they should crack down on employers who hire illegally….so why is she against it now?

My name is not Cynthia Tucker.

You should address that question to our hostess.

Peadawg

April 20th, 2011
10:49 am

“My name is not Cynthia Tucker.

You should address that question to our hostess.”

I would LOVE for Cynthia to answer my question(s) from 10:41…I won’t hold my breath though.

Mayree

April 20th, 2011
10:49 am

It doesn’t matter what he signs, it will be business as usual in the fields, and restaurants, and hotels, on lawns and in the construction yards. NO ONE will enforce the law. NO ONE. They may make a token raid or two, but all of the politicos will make sure that none of their buddies and big donars from agribusiness, construction or the hospitality industry suffer.

hobby

April 20th, 2011
10:49 am

I love Vidalia onions! But if I never get another one, that is a small price to pay
to get rid of the crime spree that the other 99% of IA’s bring!

This is all caused by the failure of the Federal Gov to do its job and protect our borders!

Good Grief

April 20th, 2011
10:52 am

Kamchak – One of the biggest issues in your quote from an earlier article is that Democrats have shown quite a bit of reluctance in enforcing the border. Unless you really believe that signs placed at the border count as enforcement.

And how can you say those that hire illegals should be prosecuted, while out of the other side of your mouth you say that certain businesses “need” illegal immigrants? These people are criminals. I don’t care how much you try to say that they are living within the laws of the US, they came here illegally, and they remain here illegally. But I guess if an onion farmer needs a hand on the farm, we can make exceptions.

DT

April 20th, 2011
10:55 am

I just think we should just raise all food prices to about triple so that Americans can get paid $20 per hour plus all of the benefits, watch how fast these people drive to Mexico and bring illegal aliens back into the U.S. again so the prices can be lowered. And then when everything is fine and dandy, get rid of them again like disposable diapers. That’s the fine upstanding “christian”, “family-valued”, “conservative” American methodology. History just repeats itself, just like the slaves bring them here to do the crap work they didn’t want to do, then when they become a problem get rid of them. They did it to the Chinese, Blacks, and Latinos. I guess once this immigration debacle blows over it’s probably the Asian next then its back to the blacks.

Georgia Peach

April 20th, 2011
10:56 am

All this anti-immigrant fervor is sending our state down the tubes. We need to face reality. We have looked the other was for years as our economy has benefited from the labor of undocumented workers. Now there are 11 million living illegally in our country, some of whom are children, most of whom have not place to go back to and who love America. We as a country cannot deport 11 million people. Our economy would suffer. Families would be destroyed. And it’s inhumane. We don’t have the collective stomach for mass deportations. Yet it’s not OK for 11 million people to be living in the shadows. The ONLY reasonable alternative a Federal solution that would secure our borders and, at the same time, provide a reasonable path to citizenship for those who are living here and contributing to our economy. The anti-immigrant faction needs to stop this nonsense and get on board with a real solution to our broken immigration problem.

Kamchak

April 20th, 2011
10:57 am

…while out of the other side of your mouth you say that certain businesses “need” illegal immigrants?

I may have been born at night, but it wasn’t last night.

I will not defend a statement that I did not make.

Peadawg

April 20th, 2011
11:00 am

“All this anti-immigrant”

I stopped reading there, Peach. I’m sure you figure out why…

gatorman770

April 20th, 2011
11:09 am

BS, Cindy! You like all liberal Marxist, just want their votes. There’s plenty of legal immigrant labor available under legal guest worker programs.

DT

April 20th, 2011
11:11 am

Georgia Peach very good statement — Peadawg probably because you felt spoken too.

MyPatooti

April 20th, 2011
11:12 am

CT, you said “Ga farmers need illegal immigrants”. Yeh, and poor people need bank robbers so that money can be spread around. Same principle. You are so far off your rocker I’m surprised the people of Atlanta don’t run you out of town. By the way, Ms. T, check the arrest reports from yesterday’s Moultrie Observer for the weekend. A very heavy agricultural county in South GA that at last report was about 17% Hispanic, probably at least 15% of those illegal. I saw at least 6 Hispanic names arrested for driving without a license, and one was DUI. Just wait til a legislative reps son, wife or daughter gets killed by one. The “fits gonna hit the shan”! Here’s the “cake-topper”! One of those arrested on Friday was charged with no tail lights and no license, THEN SHE, YES SHE, WAS ARRESTED AGAIN ON SUNDAY FOR SPEEDING AND NO DRIVER’S LICENSE. You are hopeless, CT, and so convoluted in your thought process.

Peadawg

April 20th, 2011
11:13 am

“Peadawg probably because you felt spoken too.”

Nope, it’s b/c anything that starts with “anti-immigrant” is a lie. I don’t know anyone who doesn’t want immigrants from other countries coming here LEGALLY/THE RIGHT WAY for a better life.

connie

April 20th, 2011
11:13 am

Simple solution, have the employers that hire them help them become legal. Have the farmers pay extra taxes to allow ILEGAL workers to continue working. And if they do not start the legal immigation process withint 15 days of hire deport them and fine the person who hired them.

It’s not anti-immigrant. It’s anti free ride making us citizans pay the price.

[...] Georgia shoots itself in the onion fields » Comment Page 1 | Cynthia Tucker. Cynthia Tucker [...]

Old White Lady

April 20th, 2011
11:19 am

I can’t believe the headline I just read: “Georgia Farmers Need Illegal Immigrants”! What nerve you have, Miss Tucker! You have disgraced what used to be the finest newspaper in all of the South. The paper that used to “Cover Dixie Like The Dew” has unfortunately resigned itslef to printing your “doo”.

Good Grief

April 20th, 2011
11:21 am

Kamchak – Sorry for the confusion. I meant CT stating in the past that we should prosecute businesses that hire illegals, and now she seems to say that businesses need illegals. Again, I apologize for the confusion.

Road Scholar

April 20th, 2011
11:21 am

What is more amazing is when the Ga Commissioner of Labor, after the new “illegal alien” bill is passed, states that he needs to check and see if there is a way of issueing work permits for “illegals” that are needed to perform needed work that no one else does. WHAT? This should have been a part of the law!!!!

Also, for those who state that illegal workers do not pay taxes, in addition to sales tax, they pay SS taxes and income taxes. The Baltimore Sun has an article concerning the MILLIONS of dollars illegals have paid to the state as income taxes.

jtom

April 20th, 2011
11:21 am

Just to pile on CT’s hypocrisy:

She’ll be the first one to write about “llivable wages” and the need to raise the minimum wage, buy why doesn’t farmwork attract legal workers? Because it doesn’t pay enough. It doesn’t pay enough because illegals will work for less. They will work for cash, cheat on taxes, and don’t bother with little things like car insurance or license fees required of American workers. If they get into an accident or into trouble, they just pick up and move somewhere else, or run back home across the border. You don’t know what their real names are or have a valid SS number, so you’ll never find them again. Many end up taking home more than honest Americans working for more than minimum wage. Think they are licensed, bonded, insured, or pay fees like American workers?

And for those of you who insist that illegals do pay their own way with taxes: taxpayers shell out over $100,000 per child to educate them k-12. Do illegals tend to have lots of kids? Heck yeah, but do they pay a fraction of those costs in taxes? No way. This country is broke, and in a lot of communities illegal immigrants have played a significant role in bankrupting us.

Raise the price of onions to pay enough to attract legal workers. Pay even less in taxes. Know why CTand her ilk are agaist this? Because the people she represents are the 48% who pay no taxes to begin with, and they like cheap onions. The freeloaders of this country are sticking it to the taxpayer every which way you can imagine.

dawgncstfan

April 20th, 2011
11:22 am

I am amazed every time the statement is made that illegal aliens are doing the jobs that Americans won’t do and are helping the economy, especially given the state of our current economy. This ignorant utterance neglects the fact that many Americans cannot afford to take these jobs. The jobs illegal aliens take are often violating laws (wage and safety issues) or are not operating on the same system that our country has prospered on of supply and demand. Due to a supply of unskilled, uneducated and illegal aliens, they stay at the status quo. One must scratch their head and wonder why someone doesn’t point out in the media that these jobs might turn into more desirable jobs if a slave class did not exist through illegal aliens to supply the work force for these employers. The argument that illegal aliens pay taxes and abide by the law is also preposterous. Just being here is breaking the law, and no one could pay income taxes on the wages that these people are earning which usually results in adding them to the welfare rolls for the health care or their children/selves, free school lunches, and a host of other programs that are draining the government. Any money saved by services and products produced by this class of workers ends up costing the American “Income Tax” payer or results in adding to the problems our government faces today with the budget and credit rating crisis.

Kamchak

April 20th, 2011
11:22 am

You are so far off your rocker I’m surprised the people of Atlanta don’t run you out of town.

Ms. Tucker resides in D.C., sport.

Tom B

April 20th, 2011
11:24 am

CTUCKER “Even with fake SS cares, the US govt accepts their taxes.”

So the government you so dearly love advocates this fraud?