Sunday, May 29, 2011

Boycott campaign gathers momentum

By Dianne Mathiowetz
Published May 27, 2011 11:55 AM

Immigrant rights activists in Georgia have stepped up their visibility campaign against discriminatory legislation, particularly HB 87, an Arizona copycat law that legalizes racial profiling.

Scheduled to take effect July 1, the law empowers local police throughout the state to arrest and detain anyone not carrying proof of legal residency. It also requires employers to use the federal E-Verify system before hiring a worker. HB 87 also criminalizes anyone transporting an undocumented person.

Several Georgia counties are already involved in the 287(g) program, which authorizes local law agencies to enforce immigration policies. Thousands of undocumented workers from around the world have been deported from Georgia in recent years for minor traffic offenses under this program.

Corrections Corporation of America operates several for-profit prisons in Georgia. It has been revealed that its lobbyists played a major role in writing Arizona’s SB 1070, and similar charges are being made about its influence on the Georgia legislation.

On May 7, Georgia Students for Public Higher Education conducted a banner drop focusing on another anti-immigrant piece of legislation at the commencement ceremonies of Georgia State University, held at the mammoth Georgia Dome. This act bars undocumented students from attending the top five schools in the university system, no matter their qualifications.

The next weekend a large rally was held in Gainesville, Ga., the home of several of the most anti-immigrant Georgia politicians, including Gov. Nathan Deal. It was organized by students at Gainesville State College and a number of community and faith-based groups from this rural county.

On May 15, banners opposing HB 87 were dropped during the Civil Rights baseball game played at Turner Field in Atlanta, where Grammy-winning musician Carlos Santana publicly denounced the legislation.

Hundreds of women and children marched in downtown Atlanta on May 22 to protest the implementation of HB 87. Organized by the Georgia Latino Alliance for Human Rights, the mothers’ protest is part of a series of public rallies and actions building to a day of “No work” on July 1.

A national campaign to boycott Georgia is gathering momentum, with the AFL-CIO announcing it will not schedule any conferences in the state as long as HB 87 is law.
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