Diversity in Brief "“ May 18 Edition

Harsh immigration laws in Georgia force the state to rely on prisoners to harvest their crops; demographics paint a bleak recovery path for the housing market; and more.

Officials Tap Prisoners to Harvest Farms in Georgia

In a similar vein to Alabama's woes, tough immigration legislation in Georgia has caused a series of labor shortages that amounted to about $140 million in losses for the state's agricultural industry last year. To address this, officials are using prisoners to help farmers harvest the crops. Georgia's immigration law is similar to those in Alabama and Arizona, giving police the ability to check for identification from suspects and levying harsh punishments on businesses that hire undocumented workers.

Read more: Forbes (5/17)

Census: Texas Joins Four Other States in Minority-Majority Status

Texas is now one of five minority-majority states, according to estimates released on Thursday by the Census Bureau. About 55 percent of the Texas population in 2011 was a race other than non-Hispanic whites, a trend that is being seen across the entire country. Starr County boasted the highest percentage of Hispanics at 95.7 percent.

Read more: The Texas Tribune (5/17)

Senator Introduces Bill to Increase Visas for Highly Skilled Tech Workers

Sen. John Cornyn, R-Texas, is looking to increase the number of temporary visas for technically skilled foreign workers, though the likelihood of passing the bill is slim as the presidential campaign cycle kicks into gear, Reuters reports. Cornyn's proposed bill would not make more U.S. visas available, but would take the place of 55,000 "diversity visas," which are issued to immigrants from countries with lower rates of immigration to the U.S.

Read more: Chicago Tribune/The Associated Press (5/15)

Demographics Point to Bleak Prospects for Housing Recovery

A February prediction by JPMorgan Chase CEO Jamie Dimon suggesting that the housing crisis was nearing an end as the U.S. population continues to grow may not be supported by the actual data. Although the population is growing, a large portion of the growth was attributed to new immigrants, who may not necessarily have the means to buy a  house. Factors such as age and economic status, then, indicate that the demand for housing may not be all that great.

Read more: SeekingAlpha.com (5/17)

Murder Points to Gang Activity in Peru by Mara Salvatrucha

A murder in Lima, Peru, may be linked to a gang initiation for Mara Salvatrucha, a Los Angeles-based gang founded by Central American immigrants that has spread to Mexico and Central America. Evidence of gang activity may mean that MS-13, as the group is sometimes known, has spread its influence into South America.

Read more: Univision Tumblr (5/17)