ATLANTA — About 150 people, most of them Hispanic, marched to the Georgia Capitol Tuesday to celebrate May Day, the Intentional Worker's Day, and to call for repeal of state laws here and in Alabama that crack down on illegal immigration.
"They are mean-spirited, confusing and devastate working families," said Charlie Flemming, president of the North Georgia Labor Council.
He said the Georgia law cost farmers $400 million in lost harvests because of a shortage of field hands and estimated the Alabama version would cost $2.3 billion and 60,000 jobs there.
"We need fair and just immigration in this country. We need to stand up for workers' rights," he told the crowd who cheered when a translator rendered his comments into Spanish.
The rally was sponsored by the Georgia Latino Alliance for Human Rights with backing from various other groups. Several Democratic legislators were also present to offer their support.
"Thank you for standing up and speaking for our immigrant community...You are part of the American dream," said Sen. Nan Orrock, D-Atlanta. "... I want you to know there are other senators who are with you."
Johnny B. Hill, administrative dean of the Baptist School of Theology at the Interdenominational Theological Center in Atlanta, told the crowd the timing is ripe for a coalition of religious, labor and civil-rights groups to join with Latinos in repealing the state laws and changing federal immigration law to allow undocumented aliens to become U.S. citizens.
"People are tired of being hurt, tired of suffering, tired of being bounced around," he said
"In fact, we are tired of being bound by a system of a new apartheid system," he said, comparing the current economic and social conditions to the former South African policy of racial segregation.
The march and rally were noisy but peaceful. Still, nearly a dozen state troopers were on hand to watch as was D.A. King, a vocal supporter of the state's immigration law known as HB 87.
King, the president of the Dustin Inman Society, lobbies for strict enforcement of the
He quietly photographed some of the homemade signs held by the participants, such as "Education is a human right," "No hate," and "Georgia does not grow without immigrants."
Read more at Jacksonville.com: (http://jacksonville.com/news/georgia/2012-05-01/story/may-day-marchers-say-georgia-immigration-laws-unfair#ixzz1tudkRdaL)