Tag Archives: Georgia

Anti-Latino Laws Ignite The South

By Guest Contributor Lamont Lilly

Protesters at a rally against Alabama’s HB56. All photos by the author.

In its original format, Alabama’s Beason-Hammon Act granted school resource officers the right to badger fifth graders on the basis of their immigration status. The state of Alabama, which passed the law, also known as HB 56, in June of 2011, was the only state in the country requiring public school administrators to verify immigration data for new K-12 students.

However, just two months ago in August of this year, the 11th Circuit Court of Appeals struck down the student provision of HB 56, declaring it unconstitutional and a legal breach of Plyer vs. Doe, which mandates that states provide an education to all children, regardless of their immigration status. The 11th Circuit also struck down Georgia’s HB 87, a state proposal to criminalize the “transporting and harboring of illegal immigrants,” a statute with anti-Latino written all over it, a proposal with no parallel within the U.S. system of federal law.

These recent rulings were key in dispelling the notion that individual states can create their own immigration regulations, bypassing federal authority. When initially proposed, Alabama’s HB 56 along with Georgia’s HB 87, were sold as valuable pieces of legislation that would boost local economies – laws that would crack down on the presence of those entering the U.S. illegally. Conservatives billed such bigotry as a quick fix to unemployment and poorly performing schools. Instead, such rogue policies were a complete setback to Civil Rights and due process.

In Alabama, children of all ages were deterred from attending school and pursuing their education. Many withdrew out of fear that their families could be deported if questioned about their immigration status. According to the U.S. Justice Department, over 13 percent of Latino children withdrew over the one year HB 56 operated before federal intervention. Instead of teaching Geometry, classroom instructors were fishing for birth certificates.

As for those local economies and decreasing unemployment rates, the state’s number one industry, agriculture, was damn near decimated. We’re talking an agricultural sector accustomed to generating over $5.5 billion per year. Industries dependent upon migrant labor, like poultry operations, were devastated. Small farming operations were brought to a halt, as valuable workers were scared indoors. Others simply migrated for the purpose of mere safety.
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Quoted: The Nation on HB 87′s Effect On Immigrant Mothers

The whole area is in lockdown. Drive down Buford Highway northeast of downtown Atlanta and the vast parking lots along the once-bustling strip of Vietnamese, Korean, Cuban and Mexican groceries are empty. In September the Guatemalan pupuseria was closed and the Mercado del Pueblo boarded shut. “You used to see day laborers waiting on that gas station forecourt every morning,” Jadma Noronha, a former resident turned community activist, says. “Now, no one.”

Less visible than the boarded-up businesses is the devastating effect Georgia’s new law is having on women like Arriaga, who fears deportation as much for her daughter’s sake as her own. It’s tough enough to be poor, nonwhite and female in today’s crisis-struck USA, but without legal status a woman is stripped of even those rights and resources that equal-rights and labor fights have secured. The Wild West quality of law enforcement when it comes to such new immigration laws—amid myriad state, federal and, frankly, ad hoc regulations—makes it virtually impossible to use existing protections against harassment, violence or exploitation. And abuse thrives in the chaos. Migrant women face particular threats at the border, in the workplace, even at home—and stiff odds stacked against them as they try to keep, and raise, their kids. This is what inspired women from around the country to travel to Atlanta in September under the banner We Belong Together for a conference organized by the National Domestic Workers Alliance and the National Asian Pacific American Women’s Forum. A similar delegation met in Arizona in May.

“We believe that when you see the world through the eyes of women you see an up-close, clearer picture of the full impact of what’s going on,” says Ai-jen Poo, director of the NDWA.
- From “Why Immigration Is a Feminist Issue,” by Laura Flanders

Who Will Be Troy Davis?

By Guest Contributor Michael P. Jeffries

Just two weeks ago, the live audience at the Republican presidential candidate debate cheered in gleeful support of the death penalty. At the time, sensible Americans, secure in their own polite disapproval, bookmarked the incident as another harrowing YouTube amusement, and returned to normalcy the next day. The climate has changed, and there will be no such return to normalcy after Troy Davis’s death. We cannot make up for the blood spilled while the death penalty languished as mere speck on our political radar, but we can and will work to eradicate it.

Desperate for redemption in this dark hour, we have to believe that history will reveal the Davis execution as the spark that eventually incinerated the death penalty in the United States. I worry, though, that the worthy goal of eradicating capital punishment, even if achieved, will distort and erase the tormenting racial subtext of this incident. The very possibility of even characterizing the racial meaning baked into this case as “subtext,” speaks to the suppression of the truth about racism in the United States.
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Open Thread: R.I.P. Troy Anthony Davis

By Arturo R. García

… That it was unanimous, was maybe the worst touch of what Amnesty USA’s Larry Cox called a “grotesque spectacle.” The Supreme Court of the United States of America made a man stay in a gurney for three hours while they decided whether he could keep living. And then they said no.

All of them said no. Without a published dissent, that’s how the record will read, reports of the Court not being “necessarily unanimous” be damned.

The system failed Troy Davis. It failed us all. My heart goes out to him, and to his family. And my thanks to Amy Goodman and Democracy Now for their excellent job covering this tragedy.

Consider this thread a safe space to talk about … about what we just witnessed, all of us. And how we can make sense of it.

Troy Davis’ Final Hours [Voices]

Compiled by Arturo R. García

Barring a last-minute change, Troy Davis is scheduled to be executed Wednesday at 7 p.m. EST for the murder of a Savannah police officer, despite reports that another person had confessed to the shooting, and seven of the nine witnesses in the original case recanting their testimony.

According to The Atlanta Journal-Constitution,
prison officials denied a request Wednesday morning by Davis’ attorneys to allow him to take a polygraph test. An appeal has also been filed in Butts County, Ga., where the state’s death row is located, seeking a stay of execution, saying new evidence “exposes key elements of the state’s case against Mr. Davis at trial to be egregiously false and misleading.”

Davis’ case has attracted support from around the world, with #TroyDavis and #TooMuchDoubt hashtags becoming trending topics in various U.S. cities, and protests planned not only in the U.S., but in Europe. Supporters are still being urged to contact Chatham County Judge Penny Freeseman, the only person who can stop Davis’ execution.

The struggle for justice doesn’t end with me. This struggle is for all the Troy Davises who came before me and all the ones who will come after me. I’m in good spirits and I’m prayerful and at peace. But I will not stop fighting until I’ve taken my last breath. Georgia is prepared to snuff out the life of an innocent man.
- Troy Davis, The Nation

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