ATLANTA, GA — The Georgia Immigrant Rights Alliance (GIRA) condemns the passage of voter suppression legislation. On March 25th, the Georgia legislature passed a bill that is an aggressive attack against the voting power of AAPI, Black, and Brown immigrant voters. Governor Kemp signed Senate Bill 202 (SB 202) into effect and will disenfranchise thousands of Georgians.
SB 202 is an over 90-page anti-voting bill that was fast-tracked through the legislative process with no notice to advocates, voters, or even other legislators at times. It will restrict early voting, criminalize line warming, allow the Georgia Legislature to usurp power from local boards of election, and create barriers to voting by mail. Of the many sweeping and egregious changes that SB 202 would make to our election system, the dramatic restrictions on absentee voting will directly harm immigrant communities in Georgia.
Georgia saw unprecedented voter turnout during the 2020 election cycle because Georgians were given options to safely and securely cast their ballots while in a global pandemic. Rather than continue to expand Georgians’ access to the ballot, SB 202 will restrict Georgian immigrant communities’ right to make their voices heard. This bill seeks to punish voters who followed the rules by changing the rules.
Despite the passage of one of the most horrible pieces of voter suppression legislation that Georgia has ever seen, GIRA will continue to fight for the civil and voting rights of AAPI, Black, and Brown immigrant Georgians. We will continue to make sure that our voices and communities are heard.
Phi Nguyen, Litigation Director, Asian Americans Advancing Justice-Atlanta said: “The unnecessary voting barriers presented by SB 202 pose a significant risk of disenfranchisement to the AAPI community and other immigrant communities, who are more likely to face language barriers or be new to the voting process. Forty-four percent of Asian American voters in Georgia are limited English proficient. And in the November 2020 election, more than 45,000 of the 200,000 AAPIs who voted were first time voters. New or first-time voters are also more likely to give up when faced with additional hoops or barriers to voting.”
Jerry Gonzalez, CEO, GALEO said: “This is a willful attack against minority and poor voters in Georgia. This legislation does not improve integrity of the election system but creates many more barriers for voters to exercise their right to vote. The legislation is a perpetuation of the lies of a fraudulent election cycle in 2020. The only fraud is that this legislation purports to ‘fix’ an electoral system that functioned well in 2020 with record breaking turnout of young, communities of color and normally disenfranchised voters. The ‘fix’ would be to prevent more minority voters from voting.”
Aisha Yaqoob Mahmood, Executive Director, Asian American Advocacy Fund said: “The passage of SB 202 is direct retaliation for voters of color showing up and making their voices heard in 2020. Every step of the way, Republican lawmakers have proven that they do not care about voters of color, particularly Asian American and immigrant voters who already face barriers to participating in the electoral process.”
Murtaza Khwaja, Legal & Policy Director, CAIR Georgia said: “Chairman Barry Fleming’s insidious attack on our voting electorate by disenfranchising Black and other minority voters from within ‘the people’s house’ is a brazen exploitation of his chairmanship of the Special Committee on Election Integrity. Fleming’s amateur-hour Jim Crow act, in unilaterally ramming through a ninety-three-page substitute to a two-page bill without input from voter advocacy groups, the citizens of Georgia, or a bi-partisan collection of legislators, must be roundly rejected and his chairmanship revoked.”
The Georgia Immigrant Rights Alliance (GIRA) is a statewide policy table led by immigrant communities across Georgia. The purpose of this alliance is to safeguard the rights of Georgian immigrants to create a more equal and just Georgia for immigrants, especially in the context of ongoing discriminatory treatment and targeting of these communities.
Members and Allies of GIRA
Asian American Advocacy Fund
Asian Americans Advancing Justice-Atlanta
Athens Immigrant Rights Coalition
Asian Youth for Civic Engagement
Black Alliance for Just Immigration
The Council on American-Islamic Relations – Georgia
Coalición de Líderes Latinos
Dignidade Inmigrante en Athens
Federation of Korean American Association of South East & Korean Chamber
GA Familias Unidas
Georgia Muslim Voter Project
Korean American Coalition – Atlanta
Laotian American Society
Latino Community Fund – Georgia
Refugee Women’s Network
Southeast Immigrant Rights Network
Sur Legal Collaborative
Women Watch Afrika