Washington (May 13, 2011) – This week’s signing of an Arizona S.B. 1070 copycat law in the state of Georgia by Governor Nathan Deal has drawn reaction from organizations across the country.
The Asian American Center for Advancing Justice condemns Georgia’s new sweeping anti-immigrant enforcement bill that it says will encourage racial profiling and instill fear in immigrant communities.
“Georgia’s decision to pass an Arizona-style immigration enforcement bill turns back the clock on Georgia’s progress on civil rights,” said Karen K. Narasaki, president and executive director, AAJC. “HB 87 is not only unconstitutional, it is inhumane and misguided.”
“This law places all minorities, including Asian Americans and Pacific Islanders (AAPIs), under constant suspicion,” said Stewart Kwoh, president and executive director of the Asian Pacific American Legal Center. “Such broad immigration enforcement powers will undermine community trust in law enforcement and make Georgia less safe for everyone.”
Georgia is home to more than 900,000 immigrants and has one of the fastest growing AAPI populations. The state faces a current budget deficit of $1.7 billion. Asians and Latinos wield significant economic power in Georgia, with about $23 billion in consumer purchasing power. Their businesses also had sales and receipts of $12 billion and employed more than 74,000 people.
“This law will level untold damage on the state’s immigrant communities,” said Titi Liu, executive director, Asian Law Caucus. “Georgia’s decision legalizes racial profiling by law enforcement and moves our entire country in the wrong direction.”
“We look to Congress to enact just and fair immigration reform that upholds the constitutional right of the federal government to enact and enforce immigration laws,” said Tuyet Le, executive director, Asian American Institute. “States, like Georgia, Arizona and Utah should not take matters into their own hands. We urge Congress to act now and move forward on comprehensive immigration reform.”
Wade Henderson, president and CEO of The Leadership Conference on Civil and Human Rights, said Georgia’s lawmakers have not learned from Arizona’s mistakes. He said that as the federal courts have already established, S.B. 1070 copycats like these turn American justice on its head.
“The civil rights community is deeply disappointed with Georgia Governor Nathan Deal’s decision today to sign into law House Bill 87, an odious piece of legislation that is poised to do great harm to Georgia and to the fundamental ideals on which our country was founded,” said Henderson. “These laws presume everyone is guilty, contradicting the fundamental American presumption that those accused are innocent until proven otherwise.”
Henderson said that many already know what the damage that racial profiling does – not only to us as individuals, but to entire communities. He said the this bill doesn’t address the serious issues that Georgia desperately needs to solve.
“It doesn’t improve the state’s quality of health care, or the education of its children,” he said. “It doesn’t get the state’s economy moving. It doesn’t put people back into jobs at living wages, or help balance the state’s budget.”
He said the legislation offers a false solution to Georgia’s problems that comes attached with a host of negative consequences. He said it discourages economic growth, encourages racial profiling, adds millions of dollars to the cost of law enforcement, demonizes entire communities, and puts an unconscionably high price on human dignity.