By Lisa Adler, Field Organizer for Amnesty International USA
Yesterday, March 3rd, the Georgia House voted 116-56 to pass HB 87, the anti-immigrant Arizona copycat law. The vote was down party lines, with only one Republican casting a “no” vote. The debate on the bill lasted 3 hours, with Democratic Caucus members passionately testifying against the bill. One Representative compared the bill with “slavery times”, when African Americans were forced to carry papers with them declaring who they “belonged to.”
Outside, over 200 people rallied for two hours. The rally was organized by the Georgia Immigrant and Refugee Rights Coalition, with Amnesty-SRO playing a lead organizing role. Southern Regional Office director, Everette Harvey-Thomas spoke as did numerous allies. Protestors held signs that declared HB 87 would return Georgia to a “show me your papers” state, and would be detrimental to the state’s economy by driving immigrant workers out. As the speakers concluded, we entered the capitol with a large letter that the demonstrators signed during the rally. The message was clear: “Governor Deal, Commit to Veto.”
The struggle to stop HB 87 is not over! First, the Senate has to consider the bill but then, most important, Governor Nathan Deal will decide whether to sign it or veto. As the signs clearly read yesterday, we are calling on Governor Deal to commit NOW to veto the bill should it reach his desk. It is critical he feel the pressure now, from Georgians but also from people and institutions all over the country. Please call him at 404-656-1776. Urge him to veto the bill should it arrive at his desk. Tell him that Georgia cannot afford this bill—neither economically nor morally.