Members of the Georgia Academic Community Call for Governor Nathan Deal to Veto HB 87

To sign, click here.

 

We, the undersigned, would like to express our opposition to HB 87, the Illegal Immigration Reform and Enforcement Act of 2011, which was passed by the Georgia House of Representatives on April 14, 2011.  We are faculty, staff and students in Georgia’s colleges and universities, and we urge Governor Nathan Deal to veto this legislation.  The bill promotes racial profiling, transgresses the authority of the federal government to regulate immigration, wastes badly needed state funds, and damages the reputation and economy of the state.  It is a political gimmick designed to satisfy those who would blame immigrants for all the state’s problems, not a practical solution for the economic and social challenges we face in these difficult times. 

 

For years, Georgia’s economy has taken advantage of low-wage workers in a wide variety of fields, from agriculture to construction to services.  With little ability to lobby for better conditions, undocumented workers in particular have been exploited by employers who profited from their vulnerability.  We recognize that this situation poses real problems for communities across our state and the nation, and we look to the federal government to pass comprehensive immigration reform that will address the status of the estimated eleven million undocumented individuals in the country.  Placing the burden of reform on the workers themselves, though, will do little to change the demand for cheap labor and wrongly penalizes people whose only crime is to work hard to improve the lives of their families.  Above all, we reject the punitive spirit and misguided intent of this bill.

 

The most disquieting part of HB 87, like the controversial Arizona law on which it was modeled, is the prospect that Georgians will be singled out for police scrutiny because they “seem” like they might be undocumented immigrants.  Although the bill only permits police to investigate a person’s immigration status when he or she is already suspected of committing another offense, it is not hard to imagine how authorities could use any number of pretexts to demand proof of citizenship from those deemed to be suspicious.  The offense could be as minor as loitering or running a stop sign.  The likelihood that people will be scrutinized based on their physical appearance remains inescapable, creating a situation in which some can expect to be asked for their “papers” while others go freely about their business.  We are troubled by the bill’s potential to deprive Georgians of equal protection under the law, guaranteed by the Fourteenth Amendment to the Constitution; we also question the constitutionality of a state government interfering in the regulation of immigration, which, like foreign policy, is a responsibility of the federal government.  The state government will likely be forced to spend a great deal of time and resources defending a measure that is sure to face concerted opposition in the courts.

 

As faculty, staff and students of Georgia’s colleges and universities, we have already seen the harmful potential of such anti-immigrant policies.  This bill provides extra money to local authorities to investigate residents’ immigration status and detain those who cannot prove their right to be here, even as the state has enacted year after year of cuts to education and other vital services.  It follows in the same counterproductive steps as the recent decision by the Board of Regents of the state university system to exclude undocumented immigrants  – many of whom came here through no fault of their own as children, and only want to study and contribute to our society.  Such policies are not merely unfair.  They deprive the universities of tuition dollars, and they consign a whole group of young people to a permanent caste of lower status, unable to obtain an education and condemned to work for low wages in the shadows of the economy.  Their undeveloped talents represent both a practical loss and a moral failure that the state of Georgia can ill afford.

 

If signed into law, the bill will hurt Georgia’s economy in numerous other ways.  Businesses are less likely to invest in a state that is perceived as having a hostile attitude toward diversity, and many organizations will choose not to hold their conferences and other meetings here, depriving the state and countless businesses of revenue and stunting economic recovery.  (The Atlanta Convention Visitors Bureau and the Georgia Farm Bureau have already voiced serious concerns about the law’s potential to drive visitors, investors, and workers away from our state.)  The US Human Rights Network, based in Atlanta, has announced that it will move its December conference outside of the state if the bill becomes law, and it is working with other groups to enforce a boycott of Georgia to protest the measure.  While we regret the impact a boycott will have on the state, we feel obligated to support these efforts.  The costs of this law must be felt for its injustice to be understood.  We pledge to lobby organizations of which we are members not to hold conferences or other events in the state, and we will support protests of companies and organizations that choose to hold meetings here in defiance of the boycott. 

 

In conclusion, we ask Governor Deal to consider what is in the best interests of our communities, our economy, and the fair treatment of all Georgians, regardless of their race, ethnicity, national origin or immigration status.  We urge the Governor in the strongest possible terms to veto this bill and save our state the needless cost that this unjust and unwise legislation will incur.

 

 

Sincerely,

 

1.     Alex Cummings

Georgia State University                    

2.     Marni Davis

Georgia State University

3.     David McCreery

Georgia State University            

4.     Larry Grubbs

Georgia State University

5.     Jacob Selwood

Georgia State University

6.     Matthew Lasner

Georgia State University

7.     Mindy Clegg

Georgia State University

8.     Casey Cater

Kennesaw State University

9.     Jon Schmitt

Georgia State University

10.  Sally Stanhope

Georgia State University

11.  Clif Stratton

Georgia State University (alum)

12.  Christian Jimenez

Gainesville State College

13.  Gricelda Miranda

Gainesville State College

14.  Lauren Moran

Georgia State University

15.  Kevin Baker

Georgia State University

16.  Traci Drummond

Georgia State University

17.  Clifford M. Kuhn

Georgia State University

18.  Anna Rogers

 

19.  Clara Green

Georgia Students for Public Higher Education

20.  Jamie Witter

Georgia State University

21.  Dorothy Foster

Gainesville State College

22.  John Bunting

Georgia State University

23.  Tonna Harris-Bosselmann

Gainesville State College

24.  Jerry Gonzalez

Georgia Association of Latino Elected Officials

25.  Michelle Haberland

Georgia Southern University

26.  Julie Foy Franklin

University of Georgia (alum)

27.  Laura Shelton

Georgia Southern University

28.  Elizabeth Butterfield

Georgia Southern University

29.  Michelle Lacoss

Georgia State University

30.  Kimberly Rowan

Georgia Southern University Counseling Center

31.  Greg Brock

Georgia Southern University

32.  Michelle Wilkerson

 

33.  Florence (Cita) Cook

University of West Georgia

34.  Allison DeFinis

Georgia Southern University

35.  Sonya Huber

Georgia Southern University

36.  Michelle Zoss

Georgia State University

37.  Frederic Mynard

Georgia Southern University

38.  Jonathan H. Harwell

Georgia Southern University

39.  Jorge W. Suazo

Georgia Southern University

40.  Jane Page

Georgia Southern University (professor emeritus)

41.  Denis Gainty

Georgia State University

42.  Tina Lanier

National Association of Realtors

43.  Jason Lanier

Small Business Association

44.  Erik Voss

International Center of Atlanta

45.  Tina Whittle

 

46.  Ming Fang He

Georgia Southern University

47.  Linda Bell

Georgia State University (retired)

48.  Kris Lugo

Georgia State University

49.  Elizabeth Brown

Georgia Southern University (retired)

50.  Carol White

Clayton State University

51.  Cynthia J. Frost

Georgia Southern University

52.  Cindi Chance

Georgia Southern University

53.  Virginia Fuller

Georgia Southern University

54.  Karl Friday

University of Georgia

55.  Kelsey Decker

 

56.  Adam Sabra

University of Georgia

57.  Allan Kulikoff

University of Georgia

58.  Myron Kramer

Georgia State College of Law

59.  Zulema Ibarra

Georgia Southern University

60.  Diane Batts Morrow

University of Georgia

61.  Overton Brent Berlin

University of Georgia (retired)

62.  Matthew Quest

Georgia State University

63.  Cathy Skidmore-Hess

Georgia Southern University

64.  Shane Hamilton

University of Georgia

65.  Stacy Kluge

Georgia Southern University

66.  Sally Brown

Georgia Southern University

67.  Nick Burgess

 

68.  Laura Mason

University of Georgia

69.  Elsa T. Burgess

 

70.  Gertrude Tinker Sach

Georgia State University

71.  Kathleen Comerford

 

72.  Lisa L. Abbott

 

73.  Dara Berger

Georgia State Law School (alum)

74.  Mitchell Rothstein

University of Georgia

75.  Youngjoo Yi

 

76.  Vanessa Vazquez

 

77.  Michael Nielsen

Georgia Southern University

78.  Bill Schmid

 

79.  Andrea Lanaro

 

80.  Kathleen Clark

University of Georgia

81.  Jayoung Choi

Georgia State University

82.  Robert A. Yarbrough

 

83.  Neysa L. Figueroa

 

84.  Ernesto Silva

 

85.  Amy Jaret

Georgia State University

86.  Nikkeshia Wilson

Kennesaw State University

87.  Ruth Harman

University of Georgia

88.  Hannah MacDermott

Georgia State University

89.  Dana Goldman

 

90.  JoBeth Allen

University of Georgia

91.  Saira Mazhar

Human Rights Network

92.  Kyunghwa Lee

University of Georgia

93.  Stephanie Short

University of Georgia

94.  Whittney Clark

University of Georgia

95.  Jeremy Kilpatrick

University of Georgia

96.  Susan Nordstrom

 

97.  Roberta Price Gardner

University of Georgia

98.  Karim Ismaili

Kennesaw State University

99.  Joanne Ratliff

University of Georgia

100.                 Debra Sabia

 

101.                 Brenda Nordgren

University of Georgia

102.                 Jared Lee

University of Georgia

103.                 Gayle Andrews

University of Georgia

104.                 Kira Miller

University of Georgia

105.                 Alex Cuenca

University of Georgia

106.                 Fuad Elhage

University of Georgia

107.                 Allison Wilde

University of Georgia

108.                 Peter Smagorinsky

University of Georgia

109.                 Cassie Quesenberry

University of Georgia

110.                 Frances Buttill

University of Georgia

111.                 Ashley Whiting

University of Georgia

112.                 Shelly McClanahan

University of Georgia

113.                 Christina Kim

University of Georgia

114.                 Whitney Warren

University of Georgia

115.                 Reyes Martinez

 

116.                 Matthew Seabolt

University of Georgia

117.                 Zachary Feldberg

University of Georgia

118.                 Taisha M. Seabolt

 

119.                 Jesse Benjamin

Kennesaw State University

120.                 Todd Dinkelman

University of Georgia

121.                 Bethany Moreton

University of Georgia

122.                 Christina Proctor

University of Georgia

123.                 Aimi Hamraie

Emory University

124.                 Michael Stewart

Bainbridge College

125.                 Erika Franća de Souza Vasconcelos

University of Georgia

126.                 Linda Harklau

University of Georgia

127.                 Jeffrey Carpenter

University of Georgia

128.                 Jose Ivan Jimenez

 

129.                 Dan Rea

Georgia Southern University

130.                 Eli Clark

University of Georgia

131.                 Karen Hale Hankins

University of Georgia

132.                 Brittany Daniel

Valdosta State University

133.                 Maria Rea

Georgia Southern University

134.                 Caleb Ho

University of Georgia

135.                 Nihal Khote

 

136.                 Jennifer James

University of Georgia

137.                 Darcey Pett

University of Georgia

138.                 Heidi Wasdin

 

139.                 Musonda Ndhlovu

University of Georgia

140.                 Scott Pett

Georgia State University

141.                 Corinne Rochelin

University of Georgia

142.                 Jason Hufnagel

Georgia Southern University (alum)

143.                 G. Streat

 

144.                 Arielle Rochelin

 

145.                 Silvia Tamminen

 

146.                 Amy Hackney

Georgia Southern University

147.                 Adrienne Gonzalez

Georgia State University

148.                 Mohammed Sabrin

University of Georgia a

149.                 Caitlin Cox

University of Georgia (alum)

150.                 Cierra McDonald

Emory University

151.                 James P. Hare

Emory University (alum)

152.                  Vincent Owens

 

153.                 Anika Patel

University of Georgia