ATLANTA — The ink is still drying on Georgia’s new immigration law, and already groups have mounted campaigns calling for its repeal.
One of the latest: a push for smallbusinesses and churches to publicly oppose the law by hanging signs to declare themselves “sanctuary zones” or “buy spots.” It’s the brainchild of Somos Georgia (We Are Georgia), a coalition of groups vowing the fight the new law.
The campaign started last Friday, the day Governor Nathan Deal signed HB 87 into law. So far, 17 businesses and churches have signed the pledge. Besides showing their disapproval, the sign means they will not allow law enforcement into their establishment for the sole purpose of checking immigration status.
“The sign on the door lets everyone know that everyone’s welcome,” said Radial Café owner Frank Bragg. “That we’re a safe place if someone needs it.”
Bragg has pledged to make his café a buy spot, a decision he believes his customers will support. He did it as a statement, to oppose what he calls “a hateful bill,” but believes the law could affect his business.
“In order for Atlanta to thrive and in order for small businesses like me to survive, we need people coming into town, and we need people to love Atlanta,” he said.
Organizers say it’s a way to test the law’s true meaning:
“The intent [of the law] is not to intimidate communities of color; it’s not to intimidate the immigrant community. So we’re going to call them out on that,” said Paulina Hernandez, co-director of Southerners on New Ground, which is part of Somos Georgia.
“If that really is the case, then places like businesses shouldn’t become targets,” she continued.
But supporters of the law take issue with the group’s use of one word: immigrant.
“It’s a shameless attempt to make people think we’re persecuting immigrants,” said D.A. King with the Dustin Inman Society. “We welcome immigrants who come here lawfully. It’s the illegal aliens we’re trying to get rid of.”
Somos Georgia will publish a list of all those who make the pledge, and Bragg will encourage his customers to support like-minded businesses.