With Georgia's Arizona-style white supremacy law weeks away from going into effect, Republican Gov. Nathan Deal announced criminal probationers would be a great solution for planters facing the looming peach harvest with scant immigrant labor.
The impending crackdown on immigrant labor has intimidated many workers, and the state's planters have complained HB 87, Georgia's new white supremacy law going into effect July 1, has already caused a labor shortage. A state survey revealed 11,000 farm jobs have gone begging, as the state's white population has disdained tough agricultural labor despite white supremacist claims their law would be a boon for job-seekers.
The Georgia Fruit and Vegetable Growers Association reported planters were only getting 30%-50% of the laborers they needed. Georgia has a $1.1 billion fruit and vegetable industry.
Georgia's impending white supremacy law exposes persons of color to repeated and continuous harassment, questioning and detention based on the color of their skin. As in Arizona, Georgia law enforcement may detain and demand citizenship documents at will. As in Arizona, all persons of color are suspect, including Asian-American business owners, Latino-American scientists and President Barack Obama, while all whites, including German neo-Nazi skinheads, British soccer hooligans, Russian mobsters, and IRA terrorists on the lam from Scotland Yard, not to mention home-grown murderers and child molesters, are considered to be valued all-American members of the superior white race.
Workers convicted of possessing non-compliant identity papers face 15 years in prison and fines up to $250,000.
Now, according to Deal's deal, such undocumented workers could presumably be incarcerated, fined, then made to work the fields anyway to pay off their fines. Presumably, President Obama would be picking peas for failing to produce his long-form birth certificate. As the President knows, white supremacists ultimately won't accept any documentation a person of color might produce. White supremacists consider "American" to be a synonym for the white race.
Tapping probationers and prisoners would open a vast pool of non-white laborers. According to the Georgia Department of Corrections, the state has 55,252 inmates, 62% of whom are African-American. Many may have a future of labor in the fields beneath the overseers' lash. Deal claimed there were as many as 100,000 people on probation in Georgia.
In contrast to its prison population, which is 62% black and 34% white, the state of Georgia is 59.7% white, 30.5% black, and 8.8% Latino.
Georgia is a stronghold of the neo-Confederacy movement and other white separatist and evangelical supremacist covens, many of which covet a return to a hazy antebellum vision of leisured white slave holders exploiting and brutalizing subjugated non-whites.
Deal Tuesday said he had directed state corrections and agriculture commissioners to get probationers out to the farms.
"I believe this would be a great partial solution to our current status as we continue to move towards sustainable results with the legal options available," Deal said, apparently bemoaning the overbearing federal burden imposed by the Thirteenth Amendment.
Grower Roscoe Hutcheson was not convinced. He blamed HB 87 when no one showed up to pick blackberries at his Baxley, GA farm. He told reporters he had three small children, and didn't want probationers on his spread.
"I don't want bad people around my young 'uns," he said.
Alabama is set to join Georgia with its own, even more restrictive, white supremacy law September 1. In Mississippi, Gov. Haley Barbour is still considering signing into law his state's version of the white supremacy measures, but, to the chagrin of fellow Republicans and Tea Party activists, has balked at categorically criminalizing tens of thousands who gave his state a leg up during its darkest hour.
Immigrant labor was critical to getting Mississippi back on its feet after Hurricane Katrina devastated the state in 2005, according to Barbour.
"I don't know where we would have been in Mississippi after Katrina if it hadn't been for the Spanish speakers that came in to help rebuild, and there's no doubt in my mind that some of them weren't here legally," Barbour acknowledged. "If they hadn't come and stayed...we would be way, way, way behind where we are now."
Many in Mississippi don't share Barbour's reticence. White supremacists believe non-whites are subhumans to be exploited, abused and discarded at will.
Should Barbour sign his state's new white supremacy bill into law, it would create a 600-mile wide white separatist bastion through the heart of the Deep South. Barbour has walked a fine line between extremism and propriety, at first refusing to denounce, then vowing to veto, license plates commemorating Confederate General and Ku Klux Klan founder Nathan Bedford Forrest, who many considered to have been a terrorist. American Democracy is certainly in critical condition if Haley Barbour represents its last hope against white racist dominion.