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An Unlikely Ally in Fighting Anti-Immigrant Laws

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February 29, 2012

Mayor Paul Bridges is an unlikely ally in the fight against anti-immigrant laws like Georgia’s H.B. 87. A Republican leader who raises goats in Uvalda, a small town known for being the Vidalia onion capital of the south, Mr. Bridges bucks the conservative trend as an outspoken critic of the state’s harsh immigration law.

When Mr. Bridges talks about his town, he describes a community that is a thriving agricultural center, thanks in large part to the contributions of the Latino community. Uvalda, a town of 600, is inviting and charitable, and most folks know each other pretty well. People lend each other rides to the grocery store and invite friends over for neighborly dinners, and do not think to ask for their “papers” before doing so. Mr. Bridges is one of those people, opening his home to those who work in the fields and often giving friends a ride to the doctor or church, some of whom may be undocumented. But under Georgia’s law, these simple acts of kindness become criminal acts.

The ACLU is in the 11th Circuit Court of Appeals Thursday, challenging the constitutionality of Georgia and Alabama’s discriminatory “show me your papers” laws. In both of these states, we’ve seen the devastating consequences these laws have had on their economies, reputation and communities.

When lawmakers pass laws that target and discriminate against specific groups in our community, it affects us all. Paul Bridges reminds us of that.


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