Co-authored with Catharine Debelle
“Everyone deserves the Freedom to Live, love, and work wherever they please.” – Repeal Coalition, Arizona
Georgia’s latest anti-immigrant SB 458, the bill that would bar all undocumented students from attending any school of public higher education, died in the senate earlier this week. The bill was met with grassroots mobilizations led by local immigrant rights organizations and local religious institutions that together spoke out loudly against the bill.
Some of the latest anti-immigrant bills, including Mississippi’s HB 488, did not make it past respective state Senates either. And while this brings some ease to the long struggle for justice, the death of this latest round of anti-immigrant bills is not enough.
For example, Georgia’s Sen. Barry Loudermilk has deep allies within the nativist movement, and he has a history of advocating bills that criminalize and restrict freedom for people of color and women, as well.
Loudermilk consults with Georgia’s “number one” anti-immigrant activist, D.A. King. King founded the Dustin Inman Society, which persistently promotes and pushes anti-immigrant legislation in that state. The Dustin Inman Society is listed as a state contact on the website of hate group Federation for American Immigration Reform (FAIR).
“At the same time that the Georgia billboards appeared, White Republicans Representative Barry Loudermilk and Senator Chip Pearson introduced the so-called Prenatal Nondiscrimination Act (SB 529 and HB1155) into the state’s legislature. The bill, which the Atlanta Journal-Constitution reports was crafted to pose an immediate challenge to Roe v. Wade….”
The bill required doctors to determine whether a woman was “coerced” into getting an abortion based on race. The campaign to pass the bill was coupled with the notorious billboards across Atlanta with images of an African-American infant and large yellow printed text that read “endangered species.” The campaign was used to wedge the African American community, and restrict the freedoms of women who seek to obtain an abortion free from scrutiny.
Reproductive Justice organizations based out of Atlanta, including Sister Song Women of Color Reproductive Justice Collective and SPARK Reproductive Justice Now, began organizing against the billboards, and started the TRUST BLACK WOMEN campaign in response.
Senator Barry Loudermilk appears to be a willing figurehead for nativist, right-wing agendas that seek to segregate our schools and restrict reproductive freedoms, particularly for women of color. If the people of Georgia will continue to rise together against such bigoted efforts, the bills he and others are pushing will continue to die. After all, as the Repeal Coalition in Arizona correctly stated, “everyone deserves the right to live, love, and work wherever they please.”