6/24 – Gainesville Times – Immigration: The economy will be damaged, and fear and hatred will be law’s legacy

Immigration: The economy will be damaged, and fear and hatred will be law’s legacy.

By Teodoro Maus
June 26, 2011 1:20am


Is HB 87 good for Georgia?

The question should rather be: A law who’s every paragraph targets a whole community with the intention of irreversibly hurting it; does it have anything constructive in it? Can it in any decent, humanistic sense be even remotely be considered “good for Georgia”? Or rather, doesn’t it remind us of times thankfully long gone? Is it good for Georgia?

The answer is no, it is not good for Georgia. How can it be, when – before it is even acted out – it has already been used as a justification for abusive acts by some authorities in some counties? The rationalization used is very often based on false or tendentious information that is directed to create even more anger, more aggression against the Latino community. Notice that the antagonism does not differentiate between documented and undocumented, because any one that “looks Latino” is subject to being measured with the HB 87 rod.

It is a law that, also, has led to serious economic losses just by its existence and the implicit threats it offers. Laborers – who had come year after year to work the farms they knew so well, and worked so well – began to circumvent Georgia, concerned that equipped with HB 87 the authorities would go after them, unconcerned about the migratory status they might have. The serious loss of produce in the Georgia fields had been warned by the agri-industry and, in some farms, it has already become a reality; even the proposals by the governor’s office to use paroled criminals as substitute farm workers, have not been able to stop the economic bleeding.

The law in itself is not necessary because the premises already exist in other legislations. Were it not for the intention to hurt, to punish, to wipe the state clean of Latinos (these concepts were used several times by Judge Thomas Thrush in the hearing about HB 87), there was no need for this one more legislation.

What it does achieve is to increase, enormously, the fines and the jail times, clearly converting what until now are much lighter sentences into serious criminal charges. Judge Thrash repeated several times the following premise: An 18-year-old citizen of the United States drives his mother, who is illegal, to church on a Sunday. They are late for mass, so he drives faster than the speed allowed and is stopped. Because the mother is undocumented and the son knows it, is he charged for “harboring and transporting” an illegal alien, and could face up to 25 years in jail? This is the spirit of the HB 87 bill, pretty much in its entirety. Judge Thrash qualified it as a bill designed for getting rid of all Latinos. If you think that the 18-year-old should be punished and sent to prison for 25 years, then HB 87 is an important attachment to justify your hatred (and fear, its complement) of a whole community living in the U.S.

But, if on the other hand, the information you receive in some ultra-conservative media does not coincide with what you have seen: hard working people, tight family ties, willing to learn the language and customs of their new home (as all new immigrants have, no matter where they come from), paying taxes, not using services they cannot use due to their migratory status, then you will reject all the assertions of HB 87. You will also reject the bill because it is addressing issues already treated in other, previous legislations, and was designed
specifically to be a punitive, discriminatory law -with good electoral possibilities – without any saving grace.

Once I read that when told that one has to obey all rules and laws, even when they might be hurtful, the Rev. Martin Luther King, Jr., answered back saying that every act Adolph Hitler did was legal. He meant that many laws are designed to accommodate and “legalize” otherwise terrible, unjust, destructive actions. I believe he also meant that you have to critically analyze a law, to define if it has any humanitarian value and, especially, if it does not have a destructive focal point. In other words, was it created to make the world somewhat better? Or, was it written to attack, to erase any semblance of humanism? I believe that HB 87 is in the latter category, and therefore should be defeated when faced with a judge that knows how to read the substance of the document, putting aside the decorations and “art work” that try to hide the real intention that constitute it.

Gov. Nathan Deal recognized as much in an interview where he minimizes the possibility of the defeat of HB 87 in federal court, affirming that the riddance of “illegals” will continue no matter what.

We still believe that sooner or later the anger, the hatred, the ill-will that has been promoted by the hate groups will subside, and a fair appraisal of the benefits the Latino community as a whole – documented or not – offers to this great nation, HB 87 will remain as an obsolete document, “full of fury, but signifying nothing,” as the bard said, warning how far we can fall, when we act with fear and abhorrence of someone different than us.

Teodoro Maus, the former consul general of Mexico in Atlanta, is currently the president of the Georgia Latino Alliance for Human Rights.



2 Comments to “6/24 – Gainesville Times – Immigration: The economy will be damaged, and fear and hatred will be law’s legacy”

  1. May God bless you, Senor Maus! You have spelled out what needs to be said about HB 87 loudly and clearly. May you be heard all over Georgia ~ better yet, all over the USA! This law opposes everything for which America stands. It makes a joke of the Statue of Liberty! Whatever happened to, “Give me your tired, your poor, your huddled masses yearning to breathe free”? Practically all present-day Americans have ancestors who were among those “huddled masses”; how can we turn our backs on the current immigrants? Both of my grandfathers and two of my great-grandparents immigrated to America in the late 1800’s (from Germany, Switzerland, and Ireland), so immigration has been central to my existence, quite literally. My other grandmother descended from the Mayflower Pilgrims, but I could never have been conceived without immigrants joining the family tree. I believe that is true of most Americans. We all need to look closely at our founding documents, read our history, and decide whether we want our country to continue as a beacon of light and hope to the world, or whether we are willing to destroy the Dream for which our forefathers struggled, fought, and died to pass on to us.

  2. As a pastor of the largest Catholic Community in Hall county, I have expressed my indignation and disbelieve about this propossed law HB 87. to the Times of Gainesville. The interview was posted on the Sunday issue and immediatelly I received the reprisals and reprimends of some of my parishioners. This question of immigration have become to divide us as a country and even in the core of our own faith. Good Christians who are totally opossed to any kind of solution to this problem, except to grand or “final” solution, -which evokes nightmares of an last long epoch.- of massive deportation to all who do not qualify to be here legally. The million of undocumented people in our country have not rights, nor anyway out of this mess, except for the good American as we are to defend them and to strive for their human rights As I stated in my opinion at the Times, I have never seen such an state of terror in my country as I witness everyday when people and families come to me seeking asurances for their well being and future. This infamous law should not be part of our legacy of democracy. The beauty about our country is that every time we face the greatest challenges, America re-invent itself, democracy in the best of its meaning is to give it chance to work, despite all odds. America is more the racial hatred and discriminationthat some proposs. America deserves to live at peace with itself. We hope and pray that America at the end will show to the world that we indeed are the Land of the Free and the House of the Brave.

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