National boycott of Georgia impending
A network of national organizations has notified Georgia’s GovernorDeal today “of efforts underway to organize a national boycott of Georgia, in the event that Georgia’s Arizona copycat legislation — HB 87 and SB 40 — should become law.” These groups were instrumental in coordinating the 2009 Arizona boycott, after that state passed controversial anti-immigrant legislation.
“We are currently prepared to contact all conventions, organizations, companies, cities, counties, and states that participated in the Arizona boycott to advise them of the current status of Georgia’s legislation and tell them to be ready to change plans, divest, and/or issue travel alerts to avoid the state of Georgia,” said B. Loewe, a spokesperson for the network, which includes the National Day Laborers Organizing Network (NDLON) and the Turning the Tide campaign.
Various organizations and community members of Georgia, including the SomosGeorgia/WeAreGeorgia campaign, notified them of the efforts by Georgia’s Republicans to drive immigrants out of the state, said Loewe. Should the bills pass and Governor Deal does veto them, NDLON and Turning the Tide will be ready when the Georgia groups indicate their support for a boycott, according to information the groups provided to the press.
Georgia State Senator Vincent Fort said he and others will indeed give just such a go-ahead: “If House Bill 87 passes and the Governor refuses to veto it, we, in Georgia, will call for a boycott. These laws have devastating effects on families, students, workers, and entire communities. People of good conscience will find other places for their vacations and conventions until this state gets back on the right side of history.”
The National Lesbian and Gay Task Force also supports the boycott proposal. In a letter to Governor Deal and Lt. Governor Casey Cagle, it stressed that “should the State of Georgia follow Arizona down a regrettable path to codifying anti-immigrant bias in its laws, we would be forced to reconsider our choice of venue and host city for the 2013 Creating Change Conference.” Their 2010 conference generated approximately $4 million in revenue for the City of Dallas, Texas.
Gay, lesbian, bisexual and transgender people living in Georgia will be disproportionately affected by increased ‘identity’ policing, it said.
Supporters of the boycott say that Georgia has historically thrived, in part, because it’s a state with more minority-owned businesses –and some of the largest of them– in the Southern U.S. These businesses in particular could stand to suffer economically if immigrant communities and people of color are driven out of the state, say the group.
Boycott could cost Georgia millions
A recent New York Times report indicates that, less than six months after passage of the controversial SB 1070, Arizona had lost $45 million in convention revenue. It stands to lose upwards of $750 million overall. Paulina Hernandez, co-Director of Southerners on New Ground said: “A boycott will undoubtedly hurt the state of Georgia, as it did the state of Arizona, and our Governor will be squarely to blame if he does not do the right thing and commit to vetoing these anti-immigrant bills.”
Georgia Representative Virgil Fludd (D-66) commented on the economic impact of multiple pieces of legislation pending in the legislature: “The current tax proposal we will be voting on next week has a fiscal note of $200 million–creating a massive hole in the state’s budget. Should an anti-immigrant Arizona style law pass, and a boycott ensue, the economic impact will simply be devastating. Georgia has always been known as a business friendly state and HB 87 is not business friendly. We cannot afford this.”
Members of the faith-based and nonprofit communities have also opposed HB 87. Provisions of this legislation create new, significant criminal and civil liabilities, they say. Such liabilities will negatively influence the work of communities of faith across Georgia who provide critical physical and spiritual support to some of the most vulnerable.