"We came in a caravan of two buses, vans, and cars, said Juan Díaz, who helped organize 150 people to attend the rally from Tifton, in the center of Georgia's agricultural region. The two main industries we work in are agriculture and construction. The law has a huge impact on us."
Under the new legislation, people convicted of using false identification to get a job in Georgia can face up to 15 years in prison and as much as $250,000 in fines. Phased in over the next year and a half, HB 87 will require businesses with more than 10 employees to use the federal E-Verify system to check the immigration status of new hires.
A federal judge suspended two provisions of the law June 27. One is a section that would punish people who, while committing another offense, transport or harbor undocumented immigrants or encourage them to come to the state. The other provision would authorize local cops to check the immigration status of suspects not carrying IDs.
On July 1, the day the law went into effect, many working people participated in a day without immigrants and skipped work.
The store managers talked one-on-one with each worker to convince us individually to come in to work on July 1, said Fredy Huinil, who works at H-Mart in Duluth, Georgia. Even though they offered extra pay for those who worked, many of us took off anyway.
We told the boss we would not be coming to work July 1 to protest the new law, said Elias Pérez, who works in a warehouse that distributes handbags in Suwanee, Georgia. They threatened to fire those who didnt show up. Sixteen out of 20 of us didnt work and they fired us.
"Maybe they're not supposed to be here, but when I see people fighting for their rights, I support that, said Lummie Tolbert, Jr., an unemployed heavy equipment operator from Newnan, Georgia, who attended the rally. Tolbert was among 60 participants who bought copies of the Militant, 10 of whom purchased subscriptions.
According to a recent survey requested by Georgia governor Nathan Deal, there are some 11,000 job openings in the states agricultural sector, which relies heavily on immigrant workers as a source of superexploitable labor. Growers say the new law has contributed to a shortage of farm labor.
In a recent comment on the law, Deal suggested farmers should hire people on probation to toil in the fields instead.
Capitalist politicians are increasingly scapegoating immigrant workers for joblessness and seeking ways to undermine the solidarity of working people as the capitalist crisis deepens. There are a lot of people out there that are desperate to feed their family, said state legislator Matt Ramsey, the author of HB 87. People will do just about anything when times are tough.
Front page (for this issue) | Home | Text-version home