With Civil and Human Rights Under Attack, Resistance Mounting

Charlotte Williams • Oct 31, 2011

In spite of its checkered past, and current anti-immigrant legislation, the state of Georgia is a hotbed of acts of resistance to the anti-immigrant movement as organizing efforts and grassroots leadership training continues to gain ground.  Recently, some organizations came together to strategize around collective responses to anti-immigrant advances in Georgia and in other communities across the nation.

Seeking to identify common ground in addressing the anti-immigrant movement, The Center for New Community (CNC), SisterSong-Women of Color Reproductive Justice Collective, and the Georgia Latino Alliance for Human Rights (GLAHR) met in Georgia.  In part, the discussion focused on the intersections of the anti-immigrant movement and civil, human rights violations, and the necessity of articulating a comprehensive racial analysis that identifies the underpinnings of injustice inherent within that movement.   In chronicling recent activity, most of it could primarily be traced to the John Tanton network of anti-immigrant organizations.

SisterSong, a national reproductive justice organization, understands how the criminalization of immigrant women intersects with the collective response to the anti-immigrant movement.  In its work, SisterSong and allied organizations act boldly with, and on behalf of, women of color who are denied health needs and their basic human right to determine the course of their own lives without harassment and discrimination.

GLAHR has worked to oppose the implementation of HB 87 and has recently focused on the increased incidents of racial profiling as a result of Georgia’s 287(g) program.  The organization also monitors the activity of D.A. King, the stalwart devotee of every piece of anti-immigrant legislation introduced in the state of Georgia.  King contends he is ridding American communities of the “criminal enterprise” of illegal immigration.

The discussion included a look at the neighboring state of Alabama and its recent enactment of portions of HB 56 immigration legislation.  That law has effectively created a multi-tiered crisis for the state and has hampered both the state’s agriculture and poultry industry while negatively impacting both undocumented immigrants and state residents.  Alabama and Georgia, like Arizona before them, have advanced flawed legislation that essentially amounts to mass confinement, deportation, and other major life changes for undocumented immigrants in those states.

This meeting also emphasized the goals of the Which Way Forward network.  This network prioritizes the impact of anti-immigrant activity and anti-immigrant supported public policy on the African American community and on civil rights while coordinating responses to the undermining of the political and economic agenda of the African American community.   Ms. Loretta Ross, executive director, SisterSong, with more than 30 years of organizing experience within a racial construct, offered the observation that racism is currently “being embraced as something to be proud of.”  Ms. Ross believes that building the capacity of women of color and lifting their voices can create a “transformative framework” for authentic justice.

Harsh, archaic anti-immigrant legislation and the systematic dismantling of human and civil rights is a rallying call.  The challenge for immigration, civil and human rights, and other social justice movement proponents is to advance to the next level in countering the anti-immigrant movement, particularly with the rise of the Tea Party.  As attempts to weaken hard won civil and human rights remain under attack by the anti-immigrant movement, acts of resistance will continue.

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