Georgia's agriculture commissioner: Congress must fix immigration system

RAY HENRY, Associated Press

ATLANTA - Congress must make a national guest worker program that's easier for farmers to use now that states including Georgia have passed laws targeting illegal immigrants that threaten possible labor shortages in the fields, Georgia's agriculture commissioner said Tuesday.

Agriculture Commissioner Gary Black's main recommendation came in a report that lawmakers required his office to produce last year when they joined with Arizona, Alabama and other states in passing harsh laws targeting illegal immigrants. Georgia's main farm lobbying groups opposed the move, arguing that immigration should be left to the federal government and that a crackdown would scare away migrant workers needed to harvest crops in the state's largest economic sector.

Its main recommendation echoes longtime complaints from farmers who have called the federal guest worker program unwieldy and expensive, a criticism that became more urgent once state governments launched crackdowns on illegal immigrants.