Children in a trailer park full of undocumented migrant workers in Athens, Georgia. Latino immigration has been on the rise in recent decades here, attracting an estimated 440,000 immigrants to occupy jobs in agriculture, construction, carpeting and poultry processing. However, the passage of a new strict anti-immigration law, similar to the one passed in Arizona, has instilled fear in many Latino communities throughout the state. Getting caught without a driver’s license could mean fines of $675, about two weeks’ pay. Under the law, immigrants can also be detained and deported if they don’t have documentation and a record. Their children, many of whom are US citizens, stay behind. A local activist who works closely with the community says many immigrant youths are being legally orphaned by the US government. Since reuniting families across borders becomes a complicated legal procedure, the state gives many children up for adoption. According to a report from the Applied Research Center, up to 5,100 children of parents who have been detained or deported are living in foster care. The harsh law has forced immigrants to go deeper under cover, rather than returning to the violence and economic hardships in their native countries. Georgia’s farmers have also felt the sting of the policy. They lost $140 million in unpicked crops in 2011, because farmworkers are scared to show up. The state has lost millions more in other industries. Still, proponents of the anti-immigrant bill say this is what must be done to stop the “invasion” by illegal workers.
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