From AJC.com, The Atlanta Journal -Constitution, Jeremy Redmon, 18 Apr 2011.
The state’s agricultural commissioner said Monday that he will soon begin a thorough study of whether Georgia can legally create its own guest-worker program.
Agricultural Commissioner Gary Black said his department will consult officials in Utah, where the state Legislature passed a bill this year that would allow illegal immigrants to get permits to work in that state.
Black’s study would be required under House Bill 87, omnibus immigration enforcement legislation passed by the General Assembly last week. Gov. Nathan Deal has said he plans to sign the bill.
HB 87 also would require Black’s department to study the impact of immigration on the state’s agricultural industry and “the need for reform” of the federal H-2A guest-worker program, which HB 87 calls “cumbersome and flawed.” Under HB 87, his report would be due to state lawmakers and the governor by Jan. 1.
“We do have colleagues in Utah and we will look forward to asking them how they think that is going to work for them,” Black said of the guest-worker program. “Just how that interfaces with the federal program is certainly a question that is out there.”
Black, a Republican, sidestepped questions about whether he supports or opposes HB 87, saying “my job is to be commissioner of agriculture, so I will leave my opinions out of it.”