Archive for May 15th, 2011

May 15, 2011

5/15 – CNA – US bishops see profound injustice in immigration status quo :: Catholic News Agency CNA

US bishops see profound injustice in immigration status quo :: Catholic News Agency CNA.

US bishops see profound injustice in immigration status quo
By Benjamin Mann
Kevin Appleby / President Barack Obama

.- Last week the U.S. Catholic bishops urged President Obama to act faster on his promises of federal immigration reform. In the meantime, they want Catholics to understand how the current patchwork of local laws is affecting 12 million people living and working in the country.

“Our position is that the system’s broken,” said Kevin Appleby, Director of Migration and Refugee Policy at the U.S. bishops’ conference. “The law needs to be changed.”

“We think that a lot of these people need to be brought out of the shadows. They’ve been working and contributing to society, despite the fact that they’re out of legal status.”

The bishops, Appleby said, understand the importance of the rule of law – but they also see a fundamental injustice in the current state of affairs.

Almost all Americans, he explained, benefit from illegal immigrants’ labor. But some citizens push for these same immigrants to be deported, and many others simply ignore the problem.

“We use their work, but we don’t give them any protection of the law,” said Appleby. “If they’re going to be working and contributing to the country, we have to give them that protection – we can’t have it both ways.”

In recent years, the federal government has shifted much of its traditional responsibility for enforcing immigration law onto the states. Consequently, many states have begun to pass or consider measures targeting illegal immigrants, similar to those now being challenged in Arizona and Utah.

The states have also relied upon two local enforcement programs Appleby says are fraught with problems despite their good intentions – the Congressionally-authorized 287(g) program, and the Department of Homeland Security’s Secure Communities initiative.

The first program authorizes local police to enforce federal immigration laws, while the second aims to prioritize the deportation of felons.

“We certainly agree with the goal of getting seriously criminal aliens out of the country, and the ‘Secure Communities’ program has that stated goal,” said Appleby.

The problem, he explained, is that “a lot of the people getting caught up in it haven’t committed any offenses at all, other than being out of status.”

“Although the purported reason for this program is to deport criminal aliens, at least a third of the deportees have never committed a crime whatsoever,” he pointed out. If Secure Communities “worked properly,” he said the bishops “would have no problem with it. It’s just not working properly.”

Secure Communities’ failure to focus on the “worst of the worst” offenders is not the only problem. It’s also made immigrant communities reluctant to cooperate with police at all, making many communities significantly less safe.

And, Appleby noted, it’s diverted local police departments’ attention away from their ordinary responsibilities, by saddling them with the task of enforcing federal immigration law.

“On the surface,” he said, the Secure Communities program “looks very reasonable. But when it’s applied in local communities, there are some ill effects that really need to be scrutinized.”

But these programs, and state laws with similar or greater unintended effects, will most likely continue in the absence of comprehensive, nationwide immigration reform.

Appleby thinks the discussion about immigration reform should be refocused – from a gridlocked debate pitting humanitarian concerns against the rule of law, to a discussion about what is truly in the best interest of the United States.

“Those who are against immigration would make the argument that it’s in their best interest that all these people go away,” Appleby acknowledged.

But he explained that the bishops consider this position shortsighted and impractical, as well as unfair.

“Immigrants, by and large, benefit our country. We need these immigrants, because they do a lot of things for our country that we need. But our laws aren’t fit to make them legal.”

“Immigration reform may, in fact, be helpful over the long run for our economic future,” Appleby noted. He pointed out that it could help the U.S. government’s own financial situation, by bringing underground sectors of the economy into the open where they can be taxed.

“Solving this problem is important to the common good of everyone,” he said.

Politicians, however, have plenty of incentive to accept the status quo.

“From Washington’s perspective, it’s working to have a hidden underclass doing these jobs,” Appleby observed. “It keeps the economy going, but we don’t have to offer them the protection of the law. That’s wrong.”

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May 15, 2011

5/14 – gainesvilletimes.com – New Ga. immigration law may face legal fight

New Ga. immigration law may face legal fight.

New Ga. immigration law may face legal fight

Deal signs tough bill as critics protest and threaten boycotts

POSTED: May 14, 2011 12:41 a.m.
New Ga. immigration law may face legal fight

Gainesville attorney Arturo Corso

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ATLANTA — Georgia’s controversial new immigration bill is now law.

Whether it will stay that way following a likely legal challenge remains to be seen.

Gov. Nathan Deal, calling it “a rather historic moment,” on Friday signed the measure that cracks down on illegal immigration in the state by increasing some enforcement powers and requiring many employers to check the immigration status of new hires.

“While I believe immigration is an issue that can ideally be identified and addressed – and should be addressed- at the federal level, this legislation I believe is a responsible step forward in the absence of federal action,” Deal said.

The new law was subject of heated debate in the legislature. It shares similarities to a controversial law enacted last year in Arizona and another this year in Utah. Part or all of those two laws have been blocked by federal judges, and opponents have said they’ll sue to try to do the same to Georgia’s law.

Charles Kuck, an Atlanta immigration lawyer and past president of the American Immigration Lawyers Association, said he’s working with several national groups to pull together a lawsuit challenging the Georgia law.

“This law is unconstitutional, and we’re going to try to keep it from taking effect,” he said.

A federal judge blocked some provisions of Arizona’s law last year after the federal government sued, and an appeals court upheld that decision last month. The state plans to appeal to the U.S. Supreme Court.

The law includes the following:
• Law enforcement officers now are authorized to check the immigration status of certain suspects and to detain them if they are in the country illegally.

• A requirement for private employers to use a federal database called E-Verify to check the immigration status of new hires is set to be phased in, with all employers with more than 10 employees required to comply by July 2013.

• It penalizes people who knowingly transport or harbor illegal immigrants and makes it a felony to present false documents or information when applying for a job.

Gainesville attorney Arturo Corso is concerned about the bill’s possible effects.

“I think the bill is mean-spirited in that it not only attempts to marginalize an entire race of people but attacks their citizen friends,” he said. “It deliberately tries to criminalize the citizen friends of undocumented aliens who want to help them get to the hospital or court or battered women’s shelter safely by making it a crime to give them a ride.”

Members of the Hall County delegation supported the legislation, which passed just hours before the end of the 2011 legislative session.

“I believe the final version of House Bill 87 makes a clear statement that we intend to uphold the law in Georgia even if our federal government turns its head to some who break into this country illegally,” Rep. James Mills, R-Gainesville, said after the final version passed.

“We have passed a bill that attempts to deal with a problem that has been thrust upon us by the lack of federal action on this issue,” said Rep. Doug Collins, R-Gainesville.

Opponents of the measure say it could lead to racial profiling and could harm the state’s economy, while supporters say it’s necessary because illegal immigrants are a drain on Georgia’s resources.

“When these legislators went on statewide listening tours, did the people of Georgia really want citizens to be criminalized or did they want common sense immigration reform that brings jobs back?” Corso said. “This bill is an empty piñata. Legislators keep swinging, but when it breaks, nothing comes out. There’s nothing in this bill for the common man except one more way they can take us to jail or get in our pockets for money.”

State Democrats also expressed disapproval amid threats of boycotts over the bill and their possible economic impact.

“During a record economic downturn that has inflicted our state with higher unemployment than the national average, Gov. Nathan Deal and state Republicans are doing their best to destroy Georgia’s recovery,” state party chairman Mike Berlon said in a statement. “By signing HB 87, the governor has enacted an unfair law that wrecks our agricultural, housing, tourism and poultry industries.”

A group of about 20 people protested outside of the governor’s office before moving outside the Capitol to join another several dozen more for an impromptu rally.

They plan a work stoppage on July 1, the day most parts of the law are set to take effect, and a march in Atlanta the following day.

“HB 87 was signed today, but our work continues,” Lisa Adler of Amnesty International told the crowd gathered outside the Capitol.

Local and national groups have called on businesses, conventions and conferences to cancel events in the state and not to spend money here to protest the law.

Deal said he doesn’t believe convention organizers and individuals will boycott the state.

“I believe that most people understand that a state that is doing what is within its power to do to protect its citizens and its taxpayers should not be at any point punished,” he said. “The costs of illegal immigration, in my opinion, far outweigh any of the dangers that may be threatened by boycotts.”

Groups representing the restaurants, tourism professionals and the agricultural sector have come out strongly against the new law, saying it will harm the state’s economy.

“Georgia’s going to continue to be a business-friendly state,” said Rep. Matt Ramsey, R-Peachtree City, one of the bill’s sponsors.

Corso says Deal scheduled the signing on a day when he knew it would be less newsworthy.

“I think Gov. Deal is taking advantage of the age-old practice of taking out trash on a Friday,” Corso said.

“He knows it’s highly controversial, and nobody notices Friday news as much because they go about their weekends and enjoy leisure time. When they come back to work Monday, it’s forgotten and it happens all the time. He wouldn’t dare sign it on Thursday because then we would be talking about it nonstop until Monday.”

Carolyn Crist of The Times and Kate Brumback of Associated Press contributed to this story.

May 15, 2011

5/15 – Huffington Post – Azadeh Shahshahani: The DREAM Act: Keeping Our Promise to Our Kids

Azadeh Shahshahani: The DREAM Act: Keeping Our Promise to Our Kids.

Posted: 05/14/11 11:30 AM ET

Co-authored by Georgeanne Usova, ACLU Washington Legislative Office

“What do you want to be when you grow up?” It’s one of the most common questions we ask our children. And no matter what answer they give — veterinarian, astronaut, president — we tell them the same thing: work hard in school, and you can do it.

But for thousands of young adults raised in this country, it’s not that simple. For those who were brought to the U.S. by their parents without proper documentation, current laws continue to keep their dreams out of reach. For them, unlike the classmates they have grown up next to, pursuing a college education and a career isn’t just a matter of working hard and achieving academically. Instead, they face many roadblocks in their path to success: crushing financial burden, discriminatory enrollment policies, and the constantly looming threat of deportation.

The DREAM Act, reintroduced in Congress this week, would give undocumented young people the chance to overcome these obstacles by providing a clear path to citizenship, and the ability to attend public universities at an affordable rate. DREAM would allow states to charge in-state tuition rates to all resident students, regardless of immigration status. Only those who were brought to the U.S. at the age of 15 or younger, have lived in this country for at least five years, have good moral character, have graduated from high school or obtained a GED, and who attend either college or military service for at least two years, would be eligible for citizenship. Those who meet these rigid eligibility requirements have truly demonstrated their commitment to building a life in the U.S.

With the recent reintroduction, we must remember the urgency of this legislation for so many young people. A group of 22 senators recently sent a letter to President Obama asking him to use his discretion to halt deportations of DREAM-eligible individuals. Unfortunately, although President Obama voiced his support for DREAM in an El Paso speech on immigration reform this week, he has not granted DREAM-eligible students this relief. With little sign of help coming from the administration, the DREAM Act is the only hope in sight for many talented young immigrants. For many of them, every day that we don’t pass this legislation is a day marked with uncertainty.

Financing a college education is particularly difficult for undocumented youth because they are ineligible to receive federal financial aid or loans under current federal laws. Even at relatively affordable public universities, undocumented students in most states are charged out-of-state tuition rates, which are prohibitively expensive for most immigrant families. This effectively blocks many undocumented youth from all higher education other than community or junior colleges, leading to serious inequality of educational opportunities.

Providing access to affordable higher education for all students through the DREAM Act is a crucial step to ensuring equal protection and fairness under our laws. Eleven states, including Maryland most recently, agree, and have passed tuition equality laws that allow undocumented students who attended and graduated from a high school in the state to pay the in-state rate at public universities. But unfortunately, some states have taken the opposite approach. In 2009, South Carolina became the only state in the nation to ban undocumented youth from enrolling in all public universities. And in Georgia, the university system passed a discriminatory policy that denies undocumented students enrollment at the state’s five most selective institutions.

Georgia is already losing out: Javier, a Georgia high school senior with a 4.125 GPA and heavy AP course load, will now be among those students heading out of state to continue his education. Just a day after Javier submitted his application to Georgia State, Georgia’s discriminatory policy took effect, barring him from enrolling at the university. Instead, the gifted student plans to attend a California university on a substantial scholarship.

In addition to financial hardship and discriminatory enrollment policies, the threat of deportation follows these young people wherever they go. With the increased use of programs like 287(g) and Secure Communities, which put local law enforcement officers in charge of enforcing immigration laws, undocumented students are increasingly becoming the target of racial profiling. Jessica Colotl, 22, has been in the U.S. since the age of 10, and just this week, she graduated from Kennesaw State University with a B.S. in Political Science and a French studies minor. But it nearly didn’t happen. As a student, Jessica was arrested on a minor traffic violation in Cobb County, Georgia, which participates in the 287(g) program. The local sheriff’s office turned her over to Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE), which sent her to a detention facility in Alabama to await deportation to Mexico, a country that she had not seen since early childhood. She only narrowly avoided deportation, and despite being granted a temporary extension to remain in the U.S., her future remains very uncertain.

The DREAM Act would help keep smart, hardworking young people like Javier and Jessica from getting caught up in law enforcement policies intended to target perpetrators of dangerous felonies. By allowing these deserving young people to legalize their status, they will finally have the same opportunity as their peers to attend competitive schools and live without fear of being deported.

In this country, success shouldn’t depend on where we came from or who our parents are. When we tell our children that if they work hard, they can do anything, it should be the truth.

May 15, 2011

5/15 – ajc.com – Santana blasts Georgia immigration bill before Braves game | ajc.com

Santana blasts Georgia immigration bill before Braves game  | ajc.com.

The Atlanta Journal-Constitution

Legendary rock guitarist Carlos Santana, in town to be honored for a “Beacon of Change” award at Sunday’s MLB Civil Rights Game at Turner Field, played the part as well.

 Musician Carlos Santana makes some critical remarks about immigration upon accepting the Beacon of Change award during the MLB Civil Rights Game at Turner Field in Atlanta on Sunday, May 15, 2011.

Curtis Compton, ccompton@ajc.com Musician Carlos Santana makes some critical remarks about immigration upon accepting the Beacon of Change award during the MLB Civil Rights Game at Turner Field in Atlanta on Sunday, May 15, 2011.

He took his turn at the podium on the field in a pre-game ceremony before the Braves-Phillies game to take a shot at the immigration bill just signed into law by Georgia Governor Nathan Deal on Friday.

“I represent the human race,” the Mexican-born Carlos Santana said. “The people of Arizona, the people of Atlanta, Georgia, you should be ashamed of yourselves.”

The Georgia immigration law, HB 87, signed on Friday, cracks down on illegal immigration by increasing enforcement powers and requiring many employers to check the immigration status of new hires.

Shortly after the game started, Santana met with the media in an impromptu gathering in the Turner Field press box after word of his comments began to break on the Internet and through social media.

“Most people at this point [are] afraid to really say what needs to be said,” said Santana, who was honored this weekend along with actor Morgan Freeman and baseball Hall of Famer Ernie Banks. “This is the United States. This is the land of the free. If people want the immigration law to keep passing in every state, then everybody should just get out and just leave the American Indians here. They’re the only ones that belong here.”

Santana called the immigration law racist, saying it “is the same thing as the Ku Klux Klan. It’s just not right.”

Santana said immigrants are doing jobs that other Americans wouldn’t want anyway.

“This is about fear, that people are going to steal my job,” he said.

“No we ain’t. You don’t clean toilets and clean sheets, stop shucking and jiving.”

Santana referenced his 1960s rock-n-roll background and said he was an artist not afraid to speak out.

“I’m not the kind of guy that’s goes, ‘There’s no business like show business,’” Santana said, actually singing the phrase. “I’m like the Black Panthers. This is my time that God asked me stand up for light, love and truth and justice and invite people with kindness and compassion to give us just honor and respect. This law is not correct. It’s an anti-American law. It’s a cruel law, actually. If you all remember what it was like here with Martin Luther King and the dogs and the hoses, it’s the same thing, only it’s high tech. So let’s change it.”

May 15, 2011

5/14 – South Cobb Patch – Immigrant Rights Leader Tells Why New Law is Bad for South Cobb, Nation – South Cobb, GA Patch

Immigrant Rights Leader Tells Why New Law is Bad for South Cobb, Nation – South Cobb, GA Patch.

Opinion

Gov. Nathan Deal signed a controversial undocumented immigrant bill on Friday. Richard Pellegrino of Cobb Immigrant Alliance tells why it’s detrimental to everyone.

Friday the 13, 2011, became one of the darkest and what will prove to be one of the unluckiest days for the people of Georgia when Gov. Nathan Deal signed H.B. 87 –  the so-called “Georgia Illegal Immigration Reform and Enforcement Act of 2011,” otherwise known as the Arizona copy-cat, “show your papers” law.

Even after major businesses and business groups around the state, the Atlanta City Council and Atlanta Convention and Visitors Bureau, and hundreds of thousands of Georgians and Americans asked him not to sign the bill into law, Deal cited two reasons, which are based on myths, for his signing:

1)    MYTH: Undocumented immigrants are costing the state and us, taxpayers millions of dollars.  FALSE: Deal and the framers of this bill, including Rep. Matt Ramsey, have no research or state audits to back up this false statement. TRUTH:  There are plenty of independent audits, including those performed by universities (in Georgia and elsewhere), by the Texas State Auditor, by the GAO and others, which indicate that the undocumented immigrants are actually paying and producing millions more for the economy than they receive in services, and that they actually enable the creation of more jobs for everyone with their purchasing power, with a substantial overall net economic benefit for us all.

2)    MYTH: The State of Georgia had to act because the Federal Government has not acted.  FALSE:  Deal, when he was in Congress, and the conservative wing of his party, have blocked every effort of the federal government to address the immigration issue. TRUTH: Both the Bush administration (with a bipartisan effort by McCain/Kennedy in 2006) and the Obama administration now have tried to enact true comprehensive immigration reform legislatio,n which will solve all of the state’s issues. However both Deal and the Georgia conservatives who crafted this bill have blocked these efforts.

So, besides the fact that this ill is based on myths and untruths, it is bad for all Georgians and Americans in many other ways, including:

1)    It is another unfunded mandate, which will cost, according to other states’ estimates (our governor and the legislature did not even produce a financial statement as to the law’s cost to Georgians…hmmm….I wonder why?) between $30 to $90 million to implement, coming right out of taxpayers’ pockets. (This does not count the lost revenue due to people leaving the state, boycotts, and legal fees; see below.) All of this while we are still reeling from the worst recession in history. (Why is it that whenever elected officials cannot help solve our real problems—jobs economy, etc–they find some group or country to declare war on? It is time to stop letting them scapegoat other human beings.)

2)    It is unconstitutional, therefore un-American (as has already been proven in Arizona by the federal courts) and therefore will be the subject of extensive litigation, which will cost the Georgia taxpayers millions in legal fees.

3)    It expands police powers (which the police have not asked for) beyond the bounds of American law and the civil rights which were won at such a cost here in the South, encourages racial profiling, and has been likened by the Georgia Legislative Black Caucus to the return of Jim Crow and the Fugitive Slave Act of 1850, and by others to Nazi Germany’s policies. (Have we not learned, especially in Georgia and the South, from the past? And are we willing to return to pre-Civil Rights era?)

4)    It will burden employers with an E-Verify system, which is faulty and actually flags citizens a significant percentage of the time, which may prevent them from getting hired or, if already hired, may cost them their jobs.

5)    If enforced, it may separate families, who have proven by their hard work, family values, and patriotism, that they have earned a right to be Americans (and who, by the way, were invited here by all American citizens through our government and businesses, for their relatively inexpensive and highly productive labor.) It would therefore be immoral, inhumane, and un-American to attack and harm these people, our good neighbors, right here in South Cobb and across the state and country, which this law does. And anytime one group is singled out in this way, it is racism. (In fact, the main anti-immigrant organizations which helped Georgia and Arizona draft these laws have been identified by the Southern Poverty Law Center as white supremacist, hate groups, and the KKK has endorsed this bill and law. So, Governor Deal and Rep. Matt Ramsey, are you showing us your true “color” by partnering with these groups?)

These are just a few of the myths upon which this law is based and some of the many reasons why it is bad for South Cobb, Ga. and the nation. The Cobb Immigrant Alliance views the enactment of this “law” as an act of war on our neighbors and will be joining forces with many organizations around the state, the country, and the world to ensure that this law is never enforced and is relegated to the dust heap of obsolescence, along with the other racist Jim Crow laws of the past.

We will be holding a series of town hall meetings around Cobb beginning in the next few weeks to provide more information about the law, what we can all do to ensure it is never enforced in Georiga, and how to work together as a community to resolve the real issues that are plaguing us without scapegoating one or another group of neighbors.

How will the law affect us in South Cobb and how will the law affect Georgia overall? Tell us in the comments.
May 15, 2011

5/14 – JURIST – Paper Chase: Georgia governor signs anti-illegal immigration bill

JURIST – Paper Chase: Georgia governor signs anti-illegal immigration bill.

Saturday, May 14, 2011

Dan Taglioli at 3:56 PM ET

Photo source or description

[JURIST] Georgia Governor Nathan Deal [official website] signed into law on Friday an “Arizona style” anti-illegal immigration bill [HB 87 text] that allows law enforcement officers to ask about immigration status when questioning suspects in criminal investigations. The law also imposes fines and prison sentences of up to one year for anyone who knowingly transports illegal immigrants during the commission of a crime, and requires businesses to use the federal E-Verify [official website] system to check the immigration status of potential employees, providing that workers convicted of using fake identification to gain employment could face up to 15 years in prison and $250,000 in fines. One report described the measure as one of the toughest anti-illegal immigration measures[CNN report] enacted by an individual state. In addition to demonstrations outside the capitol, the legislation has drawn threats of both lawsuits and boycotts, as did similar recent anti-illegal measures in other states.  The Georgia General Assembly [official website] approved the bill [JURIST report] in April. Several other state legislatures have also acted recently to implement so-called “Arizona style” immigration laws. Last month, the Indiana House of Representatives [official website] approved legislation [JURIST report] to revoke tax credits from businesses that hire illegal immigrants and require the use of the E-verify system to check the eligibility status of employees. Legislation similar to Georgia’s has also been approved in Alabama, Virginia and Oklahoma [JURIST reports]. Arizona’s law is currently enjoined, and Governor Jan Brewer has pledged to appeal to the US Supreme Court [JURIST reports].

May 15, 2011

5/14 – WSBTV – Group Working On Plan Of Attack Over New Immigration Bill – News Story – WSB Atlanta

Channel 2’s George Howell Reports

Posted: 10:35 am EDT May 14, 2011Updated: 11:25 am EDT May 14, 2011

ATLANTA — A group opposed to Georgia’s new immigration law met to plan how to fight back.

Protesters promised there would be consequences to the passage of the law Friday evening.

“The most important thing about this meeting is, is that this meeting is about what we are going to do,” Xochitl Bervera with Somos Georgia said.

Somos Georgia (We are Georgia) is a grassroots group against the bill.

On Friday night, the group planned their response.

“Today, we are officially calling on all businesses, conventions, conferences to cancel all plans to come to the state of Georgia and not spend a dollar here,” Bervera said.

Bervera said, like Arizona, she expects the boycott to cost Georgia millions of dollars in lost business, plus more.

“We are telling people who are part of businesses, people who are part of places of worship and other privately-owned spaces that we have to make a public statement about what this means for us living in Georgia, and that we have a choice to not comply,” Paulina Hernandez with Somos Georgia said.

The group is asking businesses to post signs pledging not to allow police inside solely to check immigration status, giving safe sanctuary to undocumented immigrants.

The new law requires businesses to use the government’s E-Verify system to check the immigration of new employees, and gives police more leeway to check the criminal status of suspects.

Opponents say it relies on racial profiling to target minorities.

“Arizona, as we know, was one of the first cases where the law passed and recently in the past few weeks it was judged unconstitutional. So we’re pretty confident the HB87 will be found unconstitutional once it’s taken to court,” Sian Ofaolan with Rights Working Group said.

Organizers said they are also planning sit-ins and other acts of civil disobedience – a symbolic move, they say, to show that they won’t be forced out of Georgia.

via Group Working On Plan Of Attack Over New Immigration Bill – News Story – WSB Atlanta.

May 15, 2011

5/14 – change.org – “Human Rights Summer” Announced in Response to Signing of Anti-Immigrant Law in Georgia | Change.org News

Change.orgHome News Victories Start a PetitionJoin LoginNEWS

via “Human Rights Summer” Announced in Response to Signing of Anti-Immigrant Law in Georgia | Change.org News.

by Gabriela Garcia · May 14, 2011

At noon on Friday the 13th (coincidence?), Georgia governor Nathan Deal signed the state’s Arizona copycat bill, HB 87, into law. The law is one of the most punitive yet — undocumented workers can be charged with felonies and face up to 15 years in prison and $250,000 in fines. Citizens who commit traffic infractions can face up to 12 months in prison and $1,000 in fines for driving in a car with an undocumented person. Already, groups including the ACLU and Southern Poverty Law Center are preparing for civil right lawsuits to block the law.
Immigrant families, protesters, and human rights groups weren’t allowed into the capitol to witness the signing. But outside, organizers stated that a boycott of the state is “on like Donkey Kong.” “This is not the end of the battle, only the beginning of a new stage,” Adelina Nicholls of the Georgia Latino Alliance for Human Rights said. “This law can and must be fought, and it can and will be defeated.”

Just hours after the signing, a public assembly was held in which broad coalitions of civil rights groups announced their plans, which begin with a “Human Rights Summer” in Georgia. In a state with a long and painful history in the battle for civil rights, this resistance movement brings to mind the 1964 “freedom summer” that ultimately resulted in the signing of the Civil Rights Act.

Among the events planned for Human Rights Summer: a Women’s March in Defense of the Immigrant Family on May 22. And July 1, when HB 87 goes into effect, will be a day of non-compliance when human rights supporters will be asked not to go to work or buy anything. Others events and actions will be announced.

Immigrant sanctuaries and “buyspots” will also be established during this time of boycott. Businesses, community organizations, places of worship, and institutions that refuse to comply with the law, which states that it is illegal to “harbor or transport” undocumented immigrants, will place decals on their windows indicating it is a safe space for immigrants and a place where supporters can feel comfortable spending their money.

“The Montgomery Bus boycott became a symbol of opposition to the racial segregation, political disenfranchisement, and persecution of blacks in the South,” reads the We Are Georgia coalition page. “Just as the Montgomery Bus boycott was about more than where black people could sit on a bus, the Georgia boycott is about more than HB-87.”

One way to stand with Georgia right now is to ask MLB commissioner Bud Selig to break baseball’s silence on this at their annual Civil Rights Game happening in Atlanta.

Gabriela Garcia is a freelance writer who has written for Latina, the Miami New Times, National Geographic Traveler blog, and Matador Network blogs, amongst other publications.
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