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Immigration challenges, ideas discussed at forum

DULUTH -- A measured and wide-ranging discussion on one of the more hot-button issues around the state and country took place on Tuesday in a Gwinnett Center conference room.

Leaders from several restaurant and agriculture trade associations, college professors, a local police chief and a deputy director of the Atlanta office of the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission discussed first-hand issues they've experienced and potential solutions to immigration issues.

The panelists presented testimonies and statistics gathered from their industries on the issue and answered questions before the Georgia Advisory Committee to the U.S. Commission on Civil Rights.

Former state senator Charles Tanksley, who chaired the committee, said the group would prepare a short report on the forum soon, and produce a more detailed summary by the end of the year. Tanksley said the discussion achieved its goal of gathering more information about immigration.

The three main issues are border security, the illegals who are already in the country and how to handle fluctuating labor demands, Tanksley said.

"I heard from all of them something that is somewhat consistent, which is we've got to have a comprehensive approach," Tanksley said.

Martin R. Castro, who was appointed by President Barack Obama to the U.S. Commission on Civil Rights in January 2011, attended the forum and said it's an important issue not only for Georgia, but also the United States.

Castro said thoughtful discussions are great parts of the debate that will take place at the national level.

Mike Giles, president of the Georgia Poultry Federation, said employment verification tools should be strengthened, and an immigrant visa program should be established.

"Our nation has another opportunity to address immigration in a comprehensive way," Giles said. "We need a comprehensive effort to stand the test of time, so we don't find ourselves in 20 years with another set of problems."

Karen Bremer, executive director of the Georgia Restaurant Association, said entry-level restaurant jobs are met with two sets of headwinds: aging demographics and younger people who are part of a "knowledge economy" that's expected to work in higher skilled jobs.

"We cannot have white-collar jobs if we don't have entry-level jobs," said Bremer, who suggested one part of a solution could be a flexible worker program to deal with seasonal issues.

While outsourcing may be a solution in some industries, it's not one for the restaurant industry, she said.

"You can't outsource a dishwasher to India, or a hostess to China," Bremer said.

Doraville Police Chief John King shared an email he received recently that said his officers should look into a group of men outside of a home improvement store who "looked illegal."

King said he later learned that the men were looking for employment, but he hesitated to pursue any arrest because they didn't appear to be breaking a law.

"How do I enforce this law without going down that slippery road of racial profiling," King said.

Feeding Americans domestically was also called a national security issue by Charles Hall, executive director of the Georgia Fruit and Vegetable Growers Association.

"It's crucial that the United States be able to feed itself," Hall said.

Following the implementation of House Bill 87 in 2011, Hall said there was a severe worker shortage that led to a $140 million loss of crops that year. While Hall didn't have updated figures from 2012, he said last year wasn't as bad.

Hall said because the "show your papers" section of HB 87 had been impounded, a worker shortage last year, "was not as major an issue."

The bill created new hire eligibility requirements for many Georgia businesses, and empowered police to investigate certain suspects' immigration status.

While Hall said there is a guest worker labor program, called "H-2A," which allows employers who anticipate a shortage of domestic workers to bring nonimmigrant foreign workers to the U.S. to perform temporary or seasonal labor.

But Hall added, "there's really no program in place to overcome HB 87."

Manuel Zurita, deputy director of the Atlanta office of the EEOC, which enforces federal laws against discrimination, said migrant workers are significantly underrepresented in discrimination cases because they're afraid of retaliation.

Zurita told one story of a female worker forced to have sex with a supervisor, but feared if she reported it that her husband and son would be deported.

Comments

R 1 year, 1 month ago

"Zurita told one story of a female worker forced to have sex with a supervisor, but feared if she reported it that her husband and son would be deported."

That's why we should be STRENGTHENING the H2A process, ( And every other visa variant for that matter) not discussing "free for all" amnesty-lite policies that won't address the problems...

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R 1 year, 1 month ago

"How do I enforce this law without going down that slippery road of racial profiling," King said."

Gee I didn't know loitering ordinance enforcement required any profiling of anything at all but the rule book and a proactive, friendly or stern "Please move move along now ..."

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notblind 1 year, 1 month ago

The challenge for illegal alien advocates is how to ram through an amnesty and citizenship deal that a majority of American citizens don't want.

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BuzzG 1 year, 1 month ago

Obama and the Democrats want illegal aliens legalized. Because they occupy the bottom rung of the economic ladder, Democrats see them as vulnerable to promises of "free" stuff from the government and thus potential Democratic party voters.

Sadly, some Republicans rely on checks from downstate vegetable growers and chicken processors who want a perpetual supply of below market labor. Hence, they seem unwilling to send the illegal aliens home. Sad.

This is our country. It was built by our ancestors with their sweat. Let's not let greedy politicians give it away.

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DavidBrown 1 year, 1 month ago

You folks must not have read the post-election synopsis by Republican Governor Bobby Jindal, among others. Governor Jindal urged Republicans to stop being the "stupid party", and he added "You don't win elections by insulting people".

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news2me 1 year, 1 month ago

We did read it, but unlike you we don't worship or believe everything that comes out of a politician's mouth. Especially when twisted by the liberal media. The liberals are winning elections by making promises they will never be able to keep, with entitled and uninformed voters. If that is an insult, then your voters and your party deserve it. The quantity of zombies that vote D is more important the than a quality, intelligent voter? Sorry but that fact screams that the (D) IS the "Stupid Party"

It is no coincidence that as the entitlement attitude / socialism "progresses" in this country, the US spirals downward on so many levels. It is sickening to think that you care more about Illegal Aliens and their imaginary future voting block than the safety and security of this country. Be honest, for once, and admit the only reason you pretend to show compassion for Illegal Aliens is the fact that so many conservatives oppose them. Just like you support gay marriage, and continue to question ad naseum what goes on in Broun's perfectly legal personal life.

But I love it everytime you post this garbage, as it makes you and your fellow libs look like the "Stupid Party" that you are! LMAO

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R 1 year, 1 month ago

Of course we have read it / heard about it / discussed the concept and the assumptions it is based on and found it somewhat wanting …

The basis seems to be that a very small percentage will vote for those who offer “anything”.

We however look at the ever greater number of all the potential voters that call themselves Republicans, Democrats or Independents that have ceased participation and believe there are more “gains” to be made there, than attempting to split off a share of an ever SMALLER pool of active democratic voters…

So lets focus on what is best for everybody and not some small fraction or subgroup repeating the same failed policies and wondering why they didn’t work AGAIN? That would be a decision of an intelligent party.

First step is to realize the Rove-ites have had their day in the sun…

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DavidBrown 1 year, 1 month ago

"news2me", labeling me a "liberal" is a visceral reaction on your part. Yes, I am "liberal" on the issue of immigration. But how many "liberals" do you know who are opposed to abortion; who are opposed to same sex marriage; who prayed regularly for President George W. Bush, Laura, Jenna and Barbara; who believe divorce is the destruction of a family; who agree with Rick Santorum that the best way to decrease poverty in America is to encourage marriage; and who believe government should not interfere with religion and religious freedom. That's what I believe.

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news2me 1 year, 1 month ago

My reaction / label is based on your habitual partisan posts on this particular site. Go back and read every post you've made - my judgements of you are based on what you post.

Sorry, but I refuse to show compassion for anyone that is in this country Illegally. Illegal is not a racial issue, at this point in our history it is not a humanitarian issue. The legal system and national security of our country is being destoyed as we debate, and to be quite clear I agree that neither political party (D or R) is serious.

The majority of American Citizens want the Illegal Invasion to STOP.

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LilburnsFuture 1 year, 1 month ago

For the most part, the illegal invasion has reduced to a crawl. Why? It's the economy. Most who live here still even though there is less work want to stay here and become citizens. The point is to provide teeth in enforcement of the borders so when the economy improves the influx will be impeded.

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Mack711 1 year, 1 month ago

Some may say that the ones who are here now should be given special treatment. by doing so you will have anyone who can enter illegaly will do so in order to take advantage of this program. That will make the problem ten times larger than what it is now. Round up all the illegals send them back to the country of origion. At that time have them apply for legal admission based on background checks in their country of origion. Secure the borders and any caught crossing illegaly should never be permitted to enter the country again anytime in the future. After all that is what happens when you go into their country. They have broken our laws once by illegaly entering what will prevent them from doing it again. How many illegals are in our jails now for major crimes.

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notblind 1 year, 1 month ago

You are far more likely to be killed in America by an illegal alien than by a muslim radical. But don't tell anybody :rolleyes:

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NewsReader 1 year, 1 month ago

This immigration thing is a double edge sword. Get rid of the illegal immigrants, then you pay $10 for a gallon of milk that cost $4 today. You want chicken for dinner? Pluck it yourself! The fact is, all these illegal aliens you complain so frequently about are the same people doing all of those jobs that are simply beneath you. We are the fat lazy Americans according to the rest of the world.

If you want to get serious about fixing the illegal alien problem, it is a multi-step process.

  1. Close the borders, and close them now. If we can find the money for all this BS entitlement, we can find the money to seal our borders.

  2. Place a ban on Mexican imports until the Mexican Government gets serious about its own people crossing the border into this country. Same for any other such country that presents such a problem.

  3. People born in this country are automatically citizens whether their parents were here legally or not. No more! Remove the anchor baby.

  4. People who came to the United States as a child under the age of 7 and have been in this country for more than 10 years receive amnesty. This was no fault of their own and they know no other way of life. As for their parents that brought them here? Not so much.

  5. Other children and their illegal parents are issued a green card in so long as there is verifiable employment complete with SSN and taxes being paid. This in no way provides for citizenship for the parents or the minor.

  6. Any criminal infraction results in immediate deportation. Do not pass go, do not collect $200, go straight to the border. Don’t come back.

  7. Build a path to citizenship where ten years of good behavior under a green card results in an offer for permanent citizenship.

  8. A commitment to the US Armed forces as a public servant moves you to the front of the line and citizenship is granted immediately upon completion of your first tour of duty.

  9. If you are here legally and extend your stay beyond your legal stay, you will be escorted to the border. Don’t come back.

  10. As for everyone else? Hit the road. The window of opportunity for you is now closed. There will be no more amnesty programs ever! Apply to become a US Citizen, and get in line with everybody else.

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R 1 year, 1 month ago

Ah yes, the urban legend claims that “illegals do the jobs other CITIZENS just won’t do…

(Except of course carrying papers)

So let’s play with that particular train of thought for a moment shall we?

First - some believe that it’s unfair to not give full citizenship (Just like trophies for tots that show up) to those who are “nothing more” than “misplaced nationals of other countries that simply got lost on their way to somewhere else on their trip though the USA.” We must in fairness, give these folks full citizenship.

So POOF... without regard or consideration of the largest detail or records we do…

They then immediately begin to move on to jobs that are more worthy of citizen status…

The Pharaoh ... err the President, realizes that they we have no more slaves…err he means travelers passing through our land …

He says in amazement as he surveys the vast land from his palace … err The Whitehouse.

Who’s going to pick our crops?

Farm our wheat?

Tend to our cattle? (There’s your milk reference)

Mow our lawns for HOA awards?…

We only have our citizens; we must get our labor back!!!

Guard! … Bring my Armor! err The Chief of Staff!, Summon the Generals!… err troops...

err... I mean the Congress!

We must create and enact another amnesty proposal before the next election cycle NOW!

I’m sure glad we postponed all that enforcement action that was discussed before…

We must restore the available labor pool of people who “Do the jobs our Citizens just won’t do!”

Wash, rinse, repeat…

Great nations of the PAST were indeed built in just such ways.

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news2me 1 year, 1 month ago

4. People who came to the United States as a child under the age of 7 and have been in this country for more than 10 years receive amnesty. This was no fault of their own and they know no other way of life. As for their parents that brought them here? Not so much.


This is the component that I have a hard time accepting. While I agree that is not their fault being brought here by their parents, there is a high probability many have been raised / taught to disrespect our laws, etc. The life that they know is to basically lie, cheat, and take. Many of these children have benefited from a free public education, free heathcare, etc. Flat out amnesty for another young entitlement class of citizens?

The myth that they all (and will continue to) work hard, value their education, and would be contributors and not takers is very, very risky. We already have an underbelly of ghetto and trailer trash that call themselves US citizens, we are going to add another layer of potentional fat that we cannot shed?

There must be strings attached here ..... somewhere .....

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R 1 year, 1 month ago

Sure grant these victims the status, after those responsible for the “hard hearted” , kidnapping and child abuse are brought up on child abuse charges... (Smiles with horns showing...)

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ACC12_SEC13Booster 1 year, 1 month ago

HB 87 is a 'paper tiger' to make white voters think that the State of Georgia is doing something about illegal immigration over the long-term when it is actually doing nothing but putting on a largely-unenforced dog-and-pony show.

Most businesses that employ illegal aliens don't put them on the payroll.

Most businesses that employ illegal aliens pay them 'under-the-table' with cash on a daily basis so that they have no tax liability on the illegals and there is no official record of their employment.

Why do you think that so many illegals are attractive targets for stick-up kids and armed robbers? Because illegals are mostly paid in cash if they have not stolen someone's social security number.

You could E-Verify every business and government agency in the state and catch few, if any, illegals because they're not on the payroll.

The government is trying to play us like a fiddle because they have no real intent of doing anything about illegal immigration.

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R 1 year, 1 month ago

No wonder I've been feeling a little tight and strung out lately...

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