Tag Archives: Protests

A Nation of Poorly Educated Students?

In a post on peopleofcolororganize.com, Roxanne Dunbar-Ortiz deconstructs the myth of the United States as a “nation of immigrants.” For Dunbar-Ortiz, that myth sanitizes the fact that the United States as we know them began as a colonial enterprise. The first European men and women to settle this land were not “immigrants,” as there was no already-established nation to emigrate to, save for the nations of Native Americans already present. Those arrivals should, instead, be remembered as settlers that dehumanized and displaced millions of indigenous Americans while taking their land through a strategically administered combination of force and diplomacy. Continue reading

Georgia State Legislature Passes SB 1070-inspired Immigration Bill

On Friday, Georgia state lawmakers passed House Bill 87, one of the harshest enforcement-based immigration policies in the country. Passed just before their legislative session ended, HB 87 is styled after Arizona’s SB 1070, and comes as Republican-controlled state governments across the country are adopting enforcement-only policies, including Indiana, Utah and others.

Though the bill takes cues from Arizona’s controversial measure, Georgia Governor Nathan Deal has acknowledged that the goal in passing HB 87 is to enact state immigration policy while avoiding legal challenges from the federal government. To that end, HB 87 does not require immigrants to carry documents, but it does allow state and local police to use criminal investigations as a pretext to question suspects about their immigration status. Like SB 1070, critics argue that HB 87 “insists on demonizing people with brown skin and Spanish accents,” as Georgia State Senator Nan Orrock stated. She pointed out that enforcement-only policies that target undocumented immigrants make racial profiling acceptable and presume the guilt of Latino populations.

The bill also makes it illegal to knowingly transport undocumented immigrants and requires business with more than 10 employees to use a federal immigration database called E-Verify to check immigration status and minimize document fraud. Yet, it places the legal burden on document fraud entirely on workers, allowing for sentences of up to 15 years and fines of up to $250,000 for workers who forge documents. One could argue that such penalties verge on cruel and unusual. Georgia’s economy, particularly the agriculture sector, relies on undocumented labor. The bill’s E-Verify provision was a compromise, business lobbies would have preferred that verification be voluntary, precisely because so many of them rely on the substandard wages they can get pay undocumented workers who have little legal protection from underpayment.

Governor Deal has indicated that he intends to sign the bill. If he does not sign or veto it within 40 days, it will become law. HB 87 is the most recent move in the battle between states and the federal government over immigration. The U.S. 9th Circuit Court of Appeals recently upheld a judge’s injunction blocking the most controversial parts of SB 1070, on the grounds that individual states cannot enact laws that punish violations of federal law. Yet, states continue to introduce and pass legislation similar to SB 1070, and the Department of Homeland Security continues to encourage states to act on their own by using the E-Verify database. The debate over immigration is not just about immigration, it is about labor, education, law enforcement, distribution of resources and fundamental understandings about what it means to be “American.” The way the debate plays out will necessarily impact the future of the United States. Organizers and immigrant groups around the country are protesting the passage of anti-immigration legislation. In Georgia, U.S. Representative John Lewis urged that protesters remain unafraid in the face of injustice, adding that he was arrested 40 times during the Civil Rights Movement.

HB 87, SB 1070 and other similar bills underscore the importance of a more robust dialogue on the politics of migration. Deep Dish TV’s interactive Uprooted series will critically analyze the current U.S. immigration debate from perspectives outside of the corportate media. The project will put forth a grassroots perspective that corporate media outlets rarely present. It will feature submissions from artists, activists, and videographers around the globe, who present their own visions of the politics of migration in a variety of contexts.

Historic Occupation Of Georgia State University By Undocumented Youth

Students risk deportation in plea to lift higher education ban

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Atlanta, Georgia— Today, undocumented youth from around the nation are joined by allies in demanding that colleges and universities refuse implementation of bans on higher education. In October of 2010 the Georgia Board of Regents joined South Carolina, Alabama, North Carolina and other states in banning undocumented youth from attending college. The ban in Georgia will go into full effect this coming fall. According to the Migrant Policy Institute over 74,000 undocumented youth reside in the state of Georgia.

“We feel that the time for us to stand up has come. I am not only doing this for my friends who are in the same situation, but also for my mom who did everything she could to give me a better life,” says Georgina Perez, 21, one of the undocumented youth, brought here, from Mexico, at the age of 3. Georgina went on to say, “I feel scared not knowing what might happen to me today, but I also know that if I do not take action then my future will remain uncertain for much longer.”

If arrested all 8 undocumented youth could face deportation proceedings. According to organizers, the participants all refuse to leave until Georgia State University’s president agrees to not comply with the ban on higher education. “Graduating from high school is bittersweet for me because I know I won’t be able to attend the same schools as my friends,” said undocumented student Dulce, 18. Dulce has been living in Georgia since she was just two years old.

‘It took me five years to complete a two year degree, I can no longer wait at home for some change to come at the federal level” said Maria Marroquin, an undocumented student from Pennsylvania. “We are being shut out of universities, criminalized and deported in states around the country. The time is always right to fight for our civil rights.”

Taking a stand, despite knowing the risks, is the only alternative the undocumented youth see. Last year, Viridiana Martinez, along with two others, lead a 13-day hunger strike outside the offices of Sen. Kay Hagan, “remaining in the shadows is no longer an option. Through my own story, I have regained my dignity and through action, I will bring light to what would otherwise remain unexposed.”

For these students it is now time for those who say they support them or those who stand against them to choose a side, decide if they will fight to educate or deport talented young people such as themselves.

“Young people have always been at the forefront of the civil rights movement,” stated David Ramirez, an undocumented youth from Chicago, Illinois, “If you claim to stand with us, fight with us. Help us defend our dignity and worth as members of American society. I’ve decided whose side I am on and I’ve chosen to act. I ask you now to do the same.”

-This is a press release from the Dream is Coming Project, who define themselves as follows:

“As The Dream is Coming project, we are compelled by our frustration and the fierce urgency of our dreams to act as agents of our destinies and be the catalysts for a future in which we are empowered, mobilized, and living with the dignity we deserve. We are a group of undocumented youth who have worked for years on a path to legalization. We are at a point in our movement where radical action has become necessary for ourselves and our communities.”