By Lisa Adler, Field Organizer for Amnesty International USA
[UPDATE: Pick up the phone and call GA House Speaker David Ralston (404) 656-5020 and your GA Representatives now. When you reach the office, please be sure to make a statement along these lines: "Vote 'no' on the Arizona Copycat HB 87 bill and all other anti-immigrant legislation. Any legislation that leads to racial profiling or pushes immigrant workers out of Georgia harms our state economically and morally."]
As they promised, Georgia state Republicans have introduced Arizona SB 1070 copy cat bills, HB 87 in the House and SB 40 in the Senate. On Monday, February 28th, HB 87 passed out of the House Judiciary Non-Civil Committee, which means a vote on the House Floor is imminent. We need your help in defeating this blatantly discriminatory bill.
If enacted, HB 87 would empower police officers to ask any individual to prove his/her lawful immigration status or citizenship during the course of a stop, including routine traffic stops, jaywalking or a variety of other commonplace actions. This bill—and its Senate companion SB 40–has no safeguards against racial profiling. Despite the claims by the bill’s author that race cannot be used, documentation of racial profiling related to immigration and criminal stops is widely available.
Furthermore, all Georgians—including citizens–will essentially be forced to carry their legal documents for fear of being arbitrarily stopped and detained. For example, if these bills pass, and I walk to the store, I must now carry my US passport? Because if I am stopped and do not carry any proof of my status, I may be detained.
While police officers may give some people the benefit of the doubt, a person of color with a Central American accent is not likely to receive the same benefit, even if s/he is a US citizen. These portions of the bills raise serious due process, racial profiling and privacy concerns.