Immigration Restrictions Lead to Work Shortage?

SAVANNAH, Ga. (AP) _ Georgia's labor commissioner says restrictions on illegal immigrants will lead to a labor shortage that will force a reassessment of how employers consider hiring of ex-convicts and other so-called "marginalized workers.''

Commissioner Michael Thurmond said yesterday that employers should start changing attitudes toward hiring workers such as the disabled and the elderly.

Thurmond was in Savannah for the Georgia Workforce Conference. He told reporters that cheap, undocumented labor from Mexico and other countries will no longer be an available source because of increasing government restrictions.

Georgia passed one of the nation's toughest laws cracking down on illegal immigrants last year. Some local government have adopted similar measures. Thurmond said he expects Congress will pass immigration reform measures after the 2008 elections.

Thurmond said farmers and food processing plants are already feeling the effects of an immigrant labor shortage. He said contractors, landscapers, restaurants and other service industries could be hurt as well.

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