Tuesday, November 29, 2011

Strawberry harvest

While driving near Plant City, Fla., this past weekend I came upon a group of migrant workers picking strawberries. All day long they are bent over as they pluck the berries and put them in plastic trays. By day's end, their backs must be pretty sore. Without these workers who travel great distances the fruit would rot in the fields and I wouldn't have easy pickings at the supermarket. But in my home state, Georgia, and in neighboring Alabama, elected officials have passed strict anti-immigration laws that could be devastating to agriculture, the green industry (landscaping), and Atlanta's convention business, which pumps millions of dollars into the local economy. The ugly truth is the folks who passed these laws are not a diverse group; they're white and mostly male. If the field workers were caucasians from Canada rather than brown Mexicans, none of those politicians would care. A federal court will decide next year whether portions of both states' laws are legal. Let's hope the court recognizes the discrimination that's scaring away these valuable workers and hurting our country, and strikes parts of those laws.

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