The Militant (logo)  

Vol. 75/No. 23      June 13, 2011

‘Legalization for all
undocumented now!’
Georgia law is blow to workers’ solidarity
(lead article)
ATLANTA—Gov. Nathan Deal signed an anti-immigrant bill May 13 aimed at weakening the unity and combativity of the working class. The new Georgia law is similar to recent measures adopted in Arizona and Utah.

The law, known as HB 87, is set to go into effect July 1. It would punish people convicted of using false identification to get a job with up to 15 years in prison and as much as $250,000 in fines. The law authorizes local and state cops to enforce immigration laws and makes it illegal to transport or “harbor” undocumented immigrants or encourage them to come to the state.

Phased in over the next year and a half, the law will require businesses with more than 10 employees to use the federal E-Verify system to check the immigration status of new hires.

Some 100 students at Cobb County’s Pebblebrook High School walked out of school in protest May 17. The students, most of them Latinos, stood in front of the school and chanted “Undocumented and unafraid!” and “Education, not deportation!”

“To win this fight we need to take to the streets,” said Arturo Perez, who helped build and organize a May 1 rally here demanding that the governor not sign the bill. The Georgia Latino Alliance for Human Rights has announced protests for July 1.

Supporters of the Militant visited Dalton, a city in the northwest part of the state, May 28 to talk with workers about how the capitalist crisis and attacks on workers’ rights are affecting their lives.

Dalton, known as the “Carpet Capital of the World,” is a city of about 30,000 with more than 150 carpet plants. More than 90 percent of the functional carpet produced in the world today is made within a 65-mile radius of the city. Half the population is Hispanic.

Workers from Dalton were among the largest groups participating in the May 1 rally.

Isela Chavez, who bought a subscription to the Militant in Dalton, gave an example of how the new law undermines workers’ solidarity. “The person who gives me a ride to work says he won’t be able to do so when the law takes effect,” she said.

Chavez also said taxi drivers fear they will violate the law if they transport undocumented passengers. “Cleaning workers and factory workers are going to lose their jobs.”

Alex Huinil told her that the Militant calls for immediate, unconditional legalization of all workers in the United States. “The bosses go to every corner of the world to exploit workers, but they try to force us to stay in one country. We must have the right to go wherever we can find work and to have our rights wherever we are.”

Reflecting the views of big sections of the employing class whose profits depend on exploiting immigrant labor, the Atlanta Journal Constitution said May 27 that the agricultural industry was reporting a severe labor shortage among fruit and vegetable growers in Georgia, potentially putting hundreds of millions of dollars in crops in jeopardy, as migrant workers decide to avoid Georgia and look for work in other states.

On May 26 the U.S. Supreme Court upheld the Legal Arizona Workers Act, which requires employers in that state to run new employees through the government’s E-Verify database. The U.S. Chamber of Commerce and the American Civil Liberties Union had filed suit on the basis that federal law prohibits states from making E-Verify mandatory. The decision did not directly address the recent Arizona law, which in some circumstances requires police there to question people they stop about their immigration status. In April a U.S. appeals court blocked enforcement of another Arizona law obliging cops to determine the immigration status of anyone they arrest before that person can be released.

Opponents of the Georgia law say they will file a legal challenge before the law goes into effect July 1. Attorney Charles Kuck told the Journal Constitution they are not challenging the E-Verify requirement similar to that upheld in Arizona, but other aspects of the bill that relate to transporting or harboring those without papers and use of false papers to get a job.  
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