6/6 – CBSAtlanta (VIDEO) – Gov. Deal: Guest Worker Program Needs Overhaul – CBS Atlanta News, Weather, Sports, Traffic – WGCL 46

Gov. Deal: Guest Worker Program Needs Overhaul – CBS Atlanta News, Weather, Sports, Traffic – WGCL 46.

Posted: Jun 06, 2011 9:49 PM EDT Updated: Jun 06, 2011 9:50 PM EDT

ATLANTA (CBS ATLANTA) – Gov. Nathan Deal said on Monday that the effects of HB 87 will not be known until more research is done. But he said he is confident any job vacancies left by illegal immigrants will be filled by American workers.

The new immigration law goes into effect on July 1. But some business owners already claim workers are leaving and they do not have a solid workforce in Georgia to fill the vacancies.

CBS Atlanta News spoke to one restaurant owner who did not want to be identified for fear of retaliation, but told CBS Atlanta he was already losing workers in his kitchen, some legal and others illegal.

“This is really, really, scary,” said the owner. “You (legislators) are really putting pressure on those of us trying to build jobs, having small businesses, trying to grow our companies. It’s a really stressful situation.”

At a rotary club luncheon in Atlanta, Deal said he is optimistic that vacant jobs will be filled.

“I think there are a lot of people that may not have wanted to work in a kitchen in the past,” said Deal.

“But if they have been out of work, certainly for an extended period of time, I think some of those jobs become more attractive simply because they are a paycheck. Whereas, they are not going to have a paycheck otherwise,” he said.

CBS Atlanta found dozens of people at the Georgia Labor Department, but no one wanted a job on a farm.

“I’d sweep the street if I have to but that’s not an industry I aspire to be in,” said Neil Morrison, who has been looking for a job for months.

Mayor Paul Bridges of Uvalda is filing a lawsuit against Georgia, calling the immigration law unconstitutional. He claims it does nothing but hurt his rural agricultural town.

“Economic areas in our communities will be devastated if we can’t get people to come harvest our crops, pick our onions, pick our squash,” said Bridges.

Deal said once HB 87 goes into effect, he is ordering the state to undergo an exhaustive study to find any potential shortages.

“It is going to be a mixture of a lot different things,” said Deal. “I think the reality is, we have to have a lot of some really good facts to base any good judgments. That is what I have asked the commissioner of agriculture to get us to compile information. What are the numbers of individuals that are needed, and what are they needed for,” said Deal.

Once the state compiles that list, Deal said it could be used at the federal level to overhaul their current guest worker program, a program Deal said needs help.

“There are just too many obstacles for them (farmers) to go through,” said Deal. “The federal program, it is expensive and uncertain, and I think all of these things hopefully will benefit their efforts to get a good guest worker program put in at the federal level.”

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