Jerry Gonzalez, 404.745.2580, email@example.com
ATLANTA (May 13, 2011) - Jerry Gonzalez, Executive Director of GALEO, released this statement upon confirmation that Governor Nathan Deal (R) will sign into law, HB87, Georgia's Arizona-style legislation:
"Today, Friday the 13th of May, will be a day that will go in our history books as a very dark day for Georgia. Governor Nathan Deal has decided to sign into law HB87, the 'Illegal Immigration Reform and Enforcement Act of 2011' or also commonly known as an Arizona-style law. GALEO, along with many other allies in diverse communities and business interests, worked diligently to defeat HB87 during the legislative process and have also been calling for the Governor's veto. Unfortunately, those efforts for reason have failed.
We are deeply outraged and concerned that the Governor has chosen to sign HB87 into law because it will do serious harm to Georgia for today and for our future. Our concern stems from the very serious economic repercussions that will be felt against our state on numerous fronts and the very serious civil and human rights abuses that will also likely follow if HB87 is fully implemented.
To begin with, costly and drawn out federal litigation will likely result with the signing of HB87 today. Federal courts have serious questions and have blocked these types of laws in both Arizona and Utah. With Georgia's budgetary crisis, Governor Deal has decided to spend precious limited state's resources on costly litigation rather than spending those resources on other priorities for our state.
Secondly, Governor Deal is set to go on an economic development trip to Europe tomorrow, attempting to sell Georgia to European businesses and countries. Unfortunately, HB87 will be a serious black eye for Georgia's efforts to court foreign investment to our state. As what has happened in Arizona with SB1070, HB87 will likely create an environment that is extremely hostile towards immigrants and foreign investors will likely not consider Georgia as a viable place to do business. Georgia's economic development's future and reputation will be irreparably harmed.
Georgia's agricultural industry, the leading industry for our state which generates $68B and relies heavily upon undocumented immigrants for manual labor, will be changed dramatically as well. There are some serious concerns that our state could lose crop production next year if immigrant labor is not readily available. In addition, there could be a shift towards the production of crops that could be mechanized, diminishing our state's treasured crops such as the Georgia peaches or our treasured Vidalia onions.
Our tourism and convention business across the state, especially in Atlanta and Savannah, will also suffer. Tourism is the second leading industry for our state. Currently, there are threats of an international boycott of travel to our state and efforts to stop conventions from coming as well. Should this move forward, it could mean the loss of hundreds of millions of dollars in tourism and convention.
As mentioned earlier, litigation is likely to follow and ultimately, the courts will decide upon the constitutionality of HB87. However, Georgia is our home and will continue to be our home. Latino and immigrants are an integral part of our state and will continue to be so for the foreseeable future. GALEO will continue to work all across our state to focus on greater civic engagement and leadership development for the Latino community. GALEO will work with business leaders and communities across our state to educate communities about HB87, to inform about the pending legal process, and work to protect our communities from possible civil rights violations. GALEO will continue to make Georgia a better place and home for us all.
Our message to the Latino and immigrant community is simple. We need calm and rational decisions, not decisions based upon fear or emotion. The intent of HB87 is to spread fear and confusion within the immigrant community; with your help, that will not happen. HB87 is not implemented yet and is set to go into effect on July 1st, 2011. However, we expect that there will be several lawsuits which may work towards blocking HB87 from full implementation, similar to what has happened in Arizona and Utah. We must remain informed and rational to make our decisions as news of HB87 continues to circulate across the nation.
Today is a dark day for Georgia. But, through the darkness, we must reach towards the light and a new day will soon come to our state.
GALEO recognizes the work that is ahead for our community and we rise to the challenge to make Georgia a better place for us all."
Jerry Gonzalez, Executive Director of GALEO, will also be available at the Capitol today from 11:30 A.M. until about 12:30 P.M. for interviews.
For community information and distribution of a simple analysis of HB87 from Charles Kuck, Immigration Partners LLC, please follow these links for English/Spanish summaries: