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Gov. Nathan Deal said on Tuesday that he was not seeking any changes to the new anti-illegal immigration law of Georgia despite of its unintended outcomes, which include a shortage of migrant farm workers.
The Republican governor, who signed the measure into law in May of last year, pointed out that some parts of the law have only been in effect for a couple of months. He indicated that he wanted to spend some more time in assessing how the entire law is working.
In an interview with a media outfit, Deal said, “I am just one of those who need to be cautious about going in and tinkering until you know the full effect of what you did the first time around.”
At the same time, the governor said that the federal government should modify its seasonal guest worker program. Some farmers in Georgia have criticized the H-2A program, which allows non-citizens to work in the United States temporarily, as too expensive and full of bureaucratic red tape.
Deal briefly talked about the immigration measure, which is also known as House Bill 87, moments after delivering a speech in downtown Atlanta at a Georgia Farm Bureau luncheon on Tuesday. A year ago, the governor also attended a similar luncheon where the Georgia Farm Bureau head issued a warning against passing a legislative measure that would scare immigrant workers away from the state.
Despite such warning, HB 87 was passed by the state Legislature in April. Since then, the $68.8 billion farming industry, considered as the largest in the state, has complained that the law is scaring away the migrant farm workers that it relies on, resulting in crop losses of almost $75 million.