Immigrants Are Welcome Here, Arizona Copycat Bills are Not!

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.

As public policy, criminalization is fundamentally flawed because it is unable to address the root causes that push people to migrate:  lack of economic opportunity, war and poverty.  Criminalization does not address the lack of legal migration channels open to low and semi-skilled immigrants and the very real demand for cheap, flexible labor in many economies.

US immigration law refers to positions that don’t require a college degree or its equivalent as “unskilled” positions.  This terminology is problematic as it ignores the years of experience and skill many workers are required to have in their relevant field such as construction, harvesting, caring for children full-time, landscaping and other jobs.

HB 87 encourages and provides incentives to state and local police to participate in federal immigration enforcement programs such as 287(g).  The truth is, almost all counties in GA already use some combination of Secure Communities or 287(g), despite the fact that there is not a lot of data about their effectiveness.  In fact, recent studies have shown that the majority of those who are deported under these programs are arrested (not necessarily convicted) for non-violent offenses despite the said intention to target violent offenders.

The impact of these deportations must be noted: separating families, creating fear in the immigrant community to report anything to law enforcement, and sometimes even resulting in the deportation of legal residents and US citizens.

Imagine making the decision to leave behind your country, your language, your family, and your home to make the very dangerous decision to go somewhere you have never been, to live in the shadows of a society that so often condemns and vilifies you not for what you do here, but simply due to who you are.  How harrowing must the situation be, how all encompassing the economic desperation when a person is driven to make that decision.  Unknown to them, however, is that they may face arbitrary arrest and detention in the US, “the land of the free.”

Let’s join together to stop passage of HB 87 and SB 40 and tell GA lawmakers that immigrants ARE welcome here.
SAVE THE DATE:  Rally for Dignity, Thursday, March 24th at the Georgia State Capitol, 11:00am.  Stay tuned for more details.

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9 thoughts on “Immigrants Are Welcome Here, Arizona Copycat Bills are Not!

  1. Good to hear it. The sooner we stop all these illegals the better. They are wearing our social programs down. Many are criminals, only to commit a crime when they arrive.

  2. We are not criminals.
    And this is a law that affects even American citizens, lacking total constitutional support.
    Their power is to make you live in fear. It's unacceptable, unfair, and again, unconstitutional, and against basic universal human rights.
    I studied here, I will soon become a legal resident, and I've always entered this country legally. Why should I or anyone like me live in fear?

  3. I think this bill should be passed. I live in a suburb of Washington DC where many illeal immigrants. My family and I could even pass as immigrants even though we have 4 generations that have lived and still live in the United States. Both of my grandparents fought in WWII for freedom for all people who are legal citizens of the US who abide by our laws.

    I have no problem with immigrants. It's illegal alliens that concerns me. These illegal aliens, the ones currently residing in my neighborhood, can literally "get away with murder" bc there is no information on them.

    There's a border between security and the government taking away our freedoms. I feel that this is necessary to ensure of protection. What about the fear of walking down your own neighborhood street and knowing that someone could cause harm to you and potentially get away with it?

    I'm willing to carry identification for safety.

  4. I would like to share something that has been bothering me for a long time and it is relevant to the subject.
    I am Bulgarian and during the communist regime, all Bulgarian citizens were obliged to carry their passports and produce at official requests…
    However, for 20 years now (since my country overthrew the old regime) we are "enjoying" the "freedom" of carrying JUST an Identity Card, which is smaller (at least) than the passport.
    We regularly experience random traffic stops by police on the ground … honestly I don't know the "ground"… Very often our driving license is not enough to prove identity…!?!?!
    For 5 years Bulgaria has been a member of the European Union (supposedly democratic establishment). My great amazement is that in many other European countries such as France, Identity Cards are obligatory, excluding UK…
    I took the liberty and have shared this information with you, just to show you how dangerous is the road (all good intentions) of limiting freedoms for the sake of "some" personal securities.
    And finally I shall remind a quote of a great US man whose is quite inspirational to me:
    " I would rather be exposed to the inconveniences attending too much liberty than to those attending too small a degree of it." T. Jefferson

  5. Dear Mariana Antova,

    Truly well said !

    Indeed, it is ONLY when we know the burden of continuous fear in our own homes, of always having to look over our shoulders, that we learn what freedom REALLY is, anywhere.

    You Know.

    Because of where you're coming from, your own land.

    The true peoples of these "americas", the Indigenes who are the color of this earth, are DE -legitimized & criminalized today by the arbitrary & artificial "borders" drawn across the Land by the REAL illegal aliens from Europe who call themselves "americans" today …

    people who forget their OWN history …

    people who forget where they come from …

    Thank you from my heart for Remembering.

  6. Camille,
    You like so many individuals in this state need a brain and a common sense. I just wish that many like you get the opportunity and the benefit to obtain one in this life time.

  7. Also, what are you doing on this site? Can you read you are on the human rights site? Get off the Internet and get back to your Glee show.

  8. Tara,

    I do believe in human rights. Thats the reason i am in law school, to fight for those who cannot defend their own right to life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness. I dont have to believe that every "right" should be a right. I
    am entitled to my own opinion, as are you.

    You don't have to agree with me on this particular subject, but you should have at least factualy backed up your statement as to why I am in need of a brain. Apparently UVA believes I have one.

    And your ignorance on the topic is present in your mentioning of an irrelevant topic: Glee

  9. Dear Camille,

    We follow good ways we are taught, but in speech & act we hurt beings all around us, nonhuman, human.

    i know one day you will use your knowledge of the law to help the downtrod, the deprived.

    The only thing i know about law is that it is here only to serve the needs of the helpless.

    When law is used by the powerful, it serves to suppress those needs.

    It's those needs we need to keep in sight Camille , & if law obstructs our sight we must remove the obstruction.

    You speak of "these illegal aliens, the ones currently residing in my neighborhood who can literally 'get away with murder' bc there is no information on them."

    How can you "fight for those who cannot defend their own right",as you put it, if you see them & speak about them like this ?

    Your fear & loathing of them pours out through your speech.

    You suspect them all of being capable of crimes uncommitted but imagined.

    See the news every day for the ACTUAL crimes, not just in your street but throughout the land, the overwhelming majority of which are committed by legal citizens & the truly MONSTROUS among which are committed by the very people who pass laws they shouldn't while refusing to enact or implement those they ought to .. the laws URGENTLY needed today to regulate the powerful , the corporations, the governments that get away with transsocial & planetary mass murder.

    Like you, Camille, i too dream of fighting for the poor & the helpless, & I TOO often find them IMPOSSIBLE TO LOVE in real life.

    But we MUST love them.We must learn how to.That's why we're here on Earth.

    You're willing to carry identification in exchange for your "security" ? At no cost to you at all, but at what cost & DAILY humiliation to entire communties & peoples from all over the Americas ?

    One time, the great Naguib Mahfouz, the Egyptian writer, talked about security.

    He said security is never more unattainable than when it is pursued at any cost.