Monday, March 28, 2011

Fighting for Immigrant Families

“There’re no more seats available,” said Cindia. She had just received a call from Beth who was already at the State capital. It was just after 9 am, and the hearing about Georgia’s House Bill 87 which seeks to establish an Arizona-style immigration law was scheduled to start at 9:30 am. “Well at least there will be standing room,” I thought to myself as I and other 9to5 staff hurried to the Capitol.

I was wrong. There was a large crowd outside the hearing room waiting for the hearing to start. While there were grumblings about the inability for everyone to fit in the room, I was moved by the fact that so many people and organizations showed up to oppose this bill. I was energized by the anger from my fellow Georgians about how this could negatively affect our communities and our state.

Eventually, they opened up two over-flow rooms to accommodate the large crowd. In the room I was in, the audio/visual equipment was not working properly, but it was clear that many of the Representatives were only concerned about how to word the bill, not the impact of the bill. They wanted to address potential opposition to the bill. They did not want to talk about bad legislation.

There were no testimonials that day, which disappointed most people. But I was learning an important lesson: The sponsors of the bill were controlling the dialogue around the legislation. It was their performance of “democracy.” Afterward, 9to5 staff and members met with with other organizations to discuss ways to regain control of the dialogue and let our Representatives know we were watching this process.

We do not want see a bill passed that not only is unconstitutional and promotes racial profiling, but also will break up families and make it harder for people to work. So despite the lack-luster, one-sided legislative hearing, I am inspired to fight. To fight for immigrant women and their families. To fight for a more just Georgia.

-Ife Finch, 9to5 Atlanta Intern

(Originally posted 2/17/2011)

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