Georgia’s HB 87 On Your Mind?

Georgia, oh Georgia, why do you want to be Arizona?

I said, Georgia, why this new law, HB 87?  It’s about as bad as Arizona’s SB1070.

Your governor, Nathan Deal, tried unsuccessfully for years to end birthright citizenship when he was a Congressman in D.C.  Now he’s won a victory in making you a state likely to be boycotted.

Here’s the bill:

  • Under HB 87, Georgia police will ask a person’s immigration status if they suspect that the person is illegal when stopping them for a “criminal violation.”  (Of course, what makes a person look “illegal”?)
  • Give a ride to an undocumented immigrant?  You could get a $1,000 fine and jail time.
  • If you use a fake ID to get a job, you could get jail time (up to 15 years) and a $250,000 fine.
  • Businesses with more than 10 employees must use the E-verify database to check each worker’s status.

There is a lot of false information going around when people talk about immigration.  For example, when your Gov. Deal speaks, he keeps talking about immigrants’ cost to taxpayers.

However, he forgets to mention that undocumented people do pay taxes.  Besides sales and property taxes, undocumented workers are issued ITIN (Individual Tax ID #’s).  They pay income tax and contribute billions of dollars to social security.

And what’s terrible is that laws like this will put more people like Jessica Colotl in jail.  You remember her, don’t you?  She came to your state when she was 11 years old.  She graduated from high school and was going to college when one of your police officers arrested her during a traffic stop.  Twenty-two year-old Jessica “spent 37 days in a detention center in Alabama before authorities let her out . . .”

Luckily, the courts granted her a year deferment, and Jessica graduated this month from Kennesaw State University.  But Georgia, you now have banned undocumented students from many of your universities, so what’s next?   Put them all in jail?

You’ve just been listening to the wrong crowd.  See who supports your bill: the Federation for American Immigration Reform (FAIR), which has been labeled a hate group; the Ku Klux Klan; and the Correction Corporation of American (CCA).

But Georgia, I know you’re not like that.  Sure, immigration is a complex problem, and people have different points of view.  We need comprehensive immigration reform, so undocumented immigrants can have a chance to become citizens.

But Georgia, we don’t need racial profiling.  We don’t need to create a climate of fear that if you look “illegal,” you could be stopped and arrested by the police.

And we don’t need to keep children from getting an education in the meantime.

According to the Pew Hispanic Center, approximately 11.2 million undocumented people live in the United States.  Do you really want to deport all of them?  They are working hard, paying taxes, and pursuing the American dream.

In a place as sweet and clear as you are, why create such a law?

Don’t get me wrong.  Folks in North Carolina and other states are trying to pass similar kinds of laws.  We need everyone to get involved to stop such hateful legislation.

But Georgia, sweet Georgia, just know that . . . you’re on my mind.