“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.
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.
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.
Rally for Truth
Thursday, March 24
11 a.m.-2 p.m.
Georgia State Capitol
206 Washington St.
Atlanta, GA 30334
Top photo: Indigo Girls (publicity photo)