A queer contingent participated in Saturday's March for Justice to protest Georgia's immigration law that went into effect July 1.
Before the march, several members of Atlanta's gay, lesbian, bisexual and transgender communities released statements saying why the oppose the law, HB 87 and titled the "Illegal Immigration Reform and Enforcement Act of 2011."
Paulina Hernandez, co-director, Southerners on New Ground:
"The LGBTQ community has a lot to risk with the passage of HB-87 and we are outraged that the governor has chosen to ignore all the community outcry from citizens, legal residents and immigrant communities alike, his arrogance will mark a political moment we will not forget," she said.
Paris Hatcher, executive director, SPARK! Reproductive Justice NOW:
"SPARK Reproductive Justice NOW stands in solidarity with SONG and other people of color and LGBTQ led organizations in the South for the July 2 Mass Mobilization. We share and echo the call for renewed commitment for justice for immigrants and other marginalized communities who are facing increased surveillance and profiling with the passage of HB87," she said. "As a community centered organization led by the experiences of women of color and LGBTQ people, we understand a temporary injunction is not enough, and only a full repeal of HB87 can mitigate the devastating impact of this racist bill on the lives, families, and communities of our people," she added.
Mary Anne Adams, board member and founder of ZAMI NOBLA, a national organization of black lesbians on aging:
"This bill uses racial profiling as a tool of Georgia to police, detain, arrest and deport Latino immigrants. Moreover, it places all people of color in the cross-hairs of Police and ICE collaboration. As a black lesbian organization we are concerned that our base, our communities and our allies will be affected with its passing and implementation. We urge our comrades to build unity across communities that experience homophobia, sexism and racism …," she said.
Craig Washington, prevention programs manager at AID Atlanta:
"As a black gay man who has been HIV positive for most of my life, I embody identities deemed as taboo, different, queer, those whose bodies are demonized, criminalized and imprisoned. I do not need to face the same pitfalls as an immigrant to recognize where our paths cross," he said. "Let our chants resound to claim freedom for all, to celebrate the contributions of immigrants throughout Georgia and the nation, to declare that we share the struggle, and that only when we are all free, can we proclaim the victory."
Stephanie Guilloud and Emery Wright, co-directors, Project South:
Today, Project South marches with families who have been targeted and profiled by racist legislation whether it’s Islamaphobia, the constant police presence in black communities, or the intimidation and fear tactics used against immigrants. We call on teachers, medical practitioners, faith leaders, students, and community leaders to choose freedom and decide not to comply with these laws," they said.
On Monday, U.S. District Judge Thomas Thrash put a temporary injunction on some of the more controversial portions of the law as a lawsuit alleging the law is unconstitutional goes through the court system.
Thrash blocked the part of the law that allows police to investigate immigration status of suspects with no identification and who are suspected of committing a state or federal crime. The judge also blocked implementation of the portion of the law that punishes people who knowingly assist or harbor an illegal immigrant.
HB 87 was sponsored by state Rep. Matt Ramsey, (R-Peachtree City). When the bill was signed by Gov. Nathan Deal into law on May 13, Ramsey issued this statement:
“HB 87 is a comprehensive and necessary effort to enforce the rule of law and protect the taxpayers of Georgia from being forced to subsidize the presence of nearly 500,000 illegal aliens in our state. Current economic conditions have made it painfully obvious that the state of Georgia literally cannot afford to continue this broken system.
“This is not simply an immigration issue, but also a problem that burdens our state’s schools, healthcare system and law enforcement community. Georgia’s taxpayers have demanded action to enforce the rule of law and, where the federal government has failed, their state government has listened and delivered.”
Photo: A rally to protest HB 87 was also held in March at the state Capitol. (by Dyana Bagby)