Shortly after the ruling, Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack told a North Carolina audience that mass deportations aren’t feasible. To solve the problem of illegal aliens, Vilsack advocates “securing the border, having immigrants pay taxes, learn English, and gain the ability to work with a permit.”

Charles Hall, executive directorof the Georgia Fruit and Vegetable Growers Association, simply wants a worker program that works.

Having seen the fallout from Arizona-style laws targeting illegal workers in his home state — which included produce left to rot in the field last summer due to a lack of work crews to harvest it — Hall also tells a cautionary tale for other states considering such legislation. Among his comments:

How the Georgia legislation came about…

“We have a Republican state House, Senate and governor. There were concerns that the ‘undocumented’ workers in Georgia were costing municipalities, school systems, hospitals and taxpayers excessive amounts of money. And the undocumented workers were taking jobs away from citizens. That was the basis of why the legislation was introduced.

“It passed in the 2011 general assembly — which started in January and eventually adjourned in early April. We have a winter/spring general assembly that can’t meet for more than 40 days.

“The legislation was signed May 13, 2011, to go into effect July 1, 2011.”

The legislation’s particulars and legal pushback…

“It didn’t really sneak up on us. We knew the discussion (on H.B.87) was going on and there was a companion bill in the Senate that was a bit different. The House bill is the one that eventually passed.

“There were some attempts during the last day of the session to defeat — or make major changes to — the bill. Those attempts were unsuccessful.

“The bill provides, primarily, two components of immigration reform. First is mandatory E-Verify ( All businesses in Georgia with 10, or more, employees will eventually have to E-Verify under this law.

“That will be phased in, and began Jan. 1, 2012, for any employer with 500 or more, employees. On Jan. 1, 2013, any employer with 200 or more employees will have to E-Verify. On July 1, 2013, any employer with 10 or more employees will have to E-Verify.