Parole on the Farm
A new program swaps migrant workers with ex-cons.
Remember when Stephen Colbert was one of 16 Americans to accept the United Farm Worker's "Take Our Jobs" challenge back in 2010? Testifying before the House Judiciary Subcommittee on Immigration, Citizenship, and Border Security, Colbert championed the plight of the migrant worker and poked holes in the argument that immigrants steal jobs:
"The invisible hand of the market has moved over 84,000 acres of production and over 22,000 farm jobs to Mexico and shut down over a million acres of US farm land due to lack of available labor. Because apparently, even the invisble hand doesn't want to pick beans."
So much for poignant pathos. A recent survey conducted by the Georgia Agriculture Department discovered that despite the heavy reliance on migrant labor, there are still thousands of farm jobs available in the state: 230 producers reported that they need to fill 11,080 jobs this year. The glut of agro jobs in Georgia may have something to do with the anti-immigration bill, HB 87, that passed the state senate earlier this year. An Arizona-esque crackdown on the migrant workforce, the bill makes harboring illegal immigrants a crime and requires employers to check the immigration status of their new hires on a federal database called E-Verify.