Atlanta’s own Indigo Girls will perform and speak at the “Rally for Truth” today, March 24, beginning at 10 a.m. at the state Capitol. The rally is being held in opposition to immigration bills being considered by the Georgia legislature.
Lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender activists are also becoming involved in the fight against the immigration laws, stating LGBT people could be caught in the “crosshairs” of the proposed laws.
Jerry Gonzalez, the openly gay executive director for the Georgia Association of Latino Elected Officials, said the immigration laws, which some are calling Arizona “copycat” laws, are harmful to people as well as to the state’s economy and he is asking “fellow Georgians [to] take a stand against the fiscally irresponsible and economically unsound legislative initiatives which mirror the Arizona legislative initiative that cause serious division and economic peril in Arizona.
“Georgia is not Arizona. We will not allow Georgia to go down that road considering all of the negative impact it would have on our state. These efforts are attracting national attention, and not in a good way,” Gonzalez said in a statement.
“Thousands of Georgia immigrants and allies are coming together to say no more to racial profiling and no more to the dangerous and unfair targeting of immigrant communities and communities of color,” added Adelina Nicholls in a statement. Nicholls is director of the Georgia Latino Alliance for Human Rights (GLAHR) and one of the rally’s central organizers.
“It makes no sense that Governor Deal seems intent on supporting legislation that will bankrupt the state – both morally and financially. We call on him to veto such misguided policy,” Nicholls said.
These bills being considered by the General Assembly as the session comes to a close can directly impact gay, lesbian, bisexual and transgender people living in Georgia, according to members of Southerners on New Ground.
Paulina Hernandez, who identifies as a queer Latina, is co-director of SONG.
“They are mobilizing resentment,” she said about the groups pushing for the immigration laws.
Hernandez said there are several different bills in the Georgia legislature that are anti-immigration, but SONG, “a membership-based, Southern regional organization made up of working class, people of color, immigrants, and rural LGBTQ people,” is focusing on the bills that allow the police to stop and detain people to ask for citizenship papers.
“We’re calling [HB 87] the ‘Show Me Your Papers’ legislation. Part of the danger to the LGBT community is the different gender identities we have. We will get caught up in the crosshairs,” she said.
On Monday, March 14, the Georgia Senate passed Senate Bill 40, sponsored by state Sen. Jack Murphy (R-Cumming), which is designed to “enhance the use of the federal E-Verify system and to allow local and state law enforcement officers to help federal authorities identify illegal immigrants in Georgia,” according to a press release from Murphy.
On March 3, lawmakers passed House Bill 87, named the “Illegal Immigration Reform and Enforcement Act of 2011” but called by opponents the “Show Me Your Papers” law. HB 87 is sponsored by state Rep. Matt Ramsey (R-Peachtree City).
“The legislation will … protect citizens from an unlawful burden on taxpayer-funded services by requiring the use of only secure and verifiable identification documents for any official purpose, including the dispensation of public benefits,” Ramsey stated in a press release.
Among other things, the bills give local police authority to stop people and ask them to verify their citizenship status and also mandate employers use E-verify, a federal database, which Congress set up as a voluntary resource for employers to check the immigration status of potential employees.
Speaking at the rally alongside the Indigo Girls will be rabbis, pastors, Imams and a Buddhist Monk as part of the rally’s interfaith service from 11 a.m. to noon.
Following the service there will be speakers who will address what is expected to be thousands of people congregating at the Capitol from area high schools and colleges.
People are asked to use MARTA, wear white, bring trash bags and to not bring flags.
Rally for Truth
Thursday, March 24
11 a.m.-2 p.m.
Georgia State Capitol
206 Washington St.
Atlanta, GA 30334