Dems seek repeal of Ga. immigration law

Jan. 24, 2012 at 8:18 PM

ATLANTA, Jan. 24 (UPI) -- Georgia Democrats seeking to repeal the state's strict new immigration law say it's hurting the farming industry by scaring off Hispanic migrant workers.

"Georgia deserves better than a bill that costs millions of dollars in lost crops, lost revenue and lost opportunities," state Rep. Lynmore James, a farmer representing Montezuma, said in a statement. "I am a Georgia farmer. I know that our families cannot afford to have politicians playing with their food. If we want good jobs and a stronger economy, the first step is repealing [the law]."

James said he and fellow Democrats plan to introduce a measure to repeal the law, saying it's hurting the state's $68.8 billion farming industry, The Atlanta Journal-Constitution reported Monday.

But the newspaper said it's unlikely the repeal effort will succeed this year in the Republican-controlled Legislature, which overwhelmingly approved the measure in April.

Officials in Georgia's agriculture industry, the state's largest, say the loss of Hispanic migrant workers as a result of the immigration law has led to crop losses of nearly $75 million.

But state Rep. Matt Ramsey, R-Peachtree City, who drafted the immigration measure, House Bill 87, said he'll battle efforts to weaken it.

"While these House Democrats may be comfortable with Georgia's taxpayers shouldering the more than $2 billion-a-year estimated burden imposed on our state by illegal immigration, the supporters of HB 87 are not and will oppose any effort to diminish its provisions," Ramsey said in an e-mail.

A coalition of civil rights and immigrant rights groups have challenged the law, and a judge has put on hold a stipulation that would authorize police to investigate the immigration status of some suspects and another that would penalize people who harbor illegal immigrants or transport them in Georgia. The state is appealing.

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