Well, last week was difficult. Three of Atlanta's Mission Year team members unexpectedly left the program, including Colyn, my friend and coworker at the Georgia Justice Project. This decision has had a huge impact on many people and communities. I'm still trying to process through everything, but I ask that you would please be in prayer for Colyn, Josh, and Janelle, as well as for the team mates, neighbors, work sites, and friends that they left behind.
In other news, last week I was able to attend a rally against Georgia's anti-immigration bills. Over 8,000 people gathered outside the State Capitol Building to show their support for the cause. An article appeared in the APN (Atlanta Progressive News) about it. It's really long, so i'll just post a few quotes...
"Oh say can you see... broken families? hungry children? broken dreams? the REAL America"
"Thousands of Georgia immigrants and allies came together today to say no more to racial profiling and no more to the dangerous and unfair targeting of immigrant communities and communities of color," Adelina Nicholls, director of the Georgia Latino Alliance for Human Rights (GLAHR) and one of the rally's central organizers, said in a statement. The business community, as well as the rally participants, hope to convince Governor Nathan Deal to veto the bill when it comes to his desk. "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.
My friends Carissa and Destry were interviewed for the news!
"We want to make the capitol walls tremble, so we can send a message to the legislators and the governor that what they are doing is not right," State Rep. Pedro Marin told APN in an English translation of his speech to the protesters.
The crowd enthusiastically shouted, "Si, Se Puede," or "Yes, It Can Be Done," after every speaker. The Indigo Girls, Amy Ray and Emily Saliers, the Georgia-based folk rock music duo, sang "Shame On You" to loud applause from the rally. Lyrics from the song include:
Let's go road block trippin in the middle of the night up in Gainesville town
There'll be blue lights flashing down the long dirt road when they ask us to step out
They say, we be looking for illegal immigrants, can we check your car?
I say, you know it's funny, I think we were on the same boat back in 1694
Both Georgia bills authorize all law enforcement to investigate the immigration status of anyone they have "probable cause" to believe has committed a criminal offense, including traffic violations. Other provisions mandate vehicle confiscation, fines and/or jail time for transporting an "illegal alien" in a motor vehicle. (Good luck to MARTA on this one)
"We are here for two reasons today. We deserve and demand dignity and respect, for without our immigrant community, Georgia does not work. It is the immigrant labor, in the agricultural industry, that produces 68 billion dollars for Georgia," Jerry Gonzales, Executive Director, Georgia Association of Latino Elected Officials, said. "It's time to move past politics and division - time to create jobs instead of killing jobs."
"There is nothing more powerful than a determined and committed people. You must not give up. You must not give in. You must try everything possible to keep this bill from passing," the legendary US Rep. John Lewis said. "There are no illegal human beings. We do not want Arizona type legislation in Georgia."
"Immigration is an issue for the national government, not the government of the state of Georgia," Lewis said. "If you are arrested, I will get arrested and go to jail with you. The jails in Georgia are not large enough to hold all of us," Lewis promised.
If you'd like to read the full story, which includes more information on the Bills, you can do so here!
"The rights of immigrants are human rights!"