June 10th, 2021

Erik Francisco Medina

Communications Manager






ATLANTA, GA – On June 10th, 2021, GALEO and the GALEO Latino Community Development Fund published the fourth report highlighting the 2020 growth and engagement of the Latino voters in Georgia. In partnership with NALEO Educational Fund and the Department of Political Science of the University of Georgia, GALEO unveiled the most comprehensive Latino electorate analysis in Georgia during the 2020 election cycle and the rapid growth of the Latino-Hispanic electorate in the state.

Check the report here: GLV 2020 Report

In the 2020 election cycle, the Latino electorate in the state of Georgia continued to grow with significant impact. This report’s analysis showcases that the Latino electorate became more politically and civically conscious. Georgia’s electoral results indicate this development. Based upon the statewide voter data file and the analysis on this report from March 5th, 2021, the Latino electorate now has 385,185 registered voters, representing 4.1% of Georgia’s total voters.

The Latino electorate grew by 140,995 new voters since the 2016 report, presenting a growth rate of 57.7%. On a national level, the Latino vote increased by 6 million voters since the 2016 election cycle, approaching a record number of 18.7 million voters in 2020. Reportedly, one in 10 voters was Latino in 2020. Additionally, younger Latinos ages 18 to 40, with about 2.4 million voters, were first-time and newly registered voters. The Latina vote was vital in many battleground states like Florida, Texas, Arizona, and Georgia.

The electorate in Georgia is evolving swiftly, and the Latino community is an indispensable part of the electorate that should be targeted, respected, and cultivated by all political parties in the state.  As the Latino community increases in numbers and force, elected officials and candidates should pay Georgia’s critical demographic attention.

GALEO is a non-profit organization based in Atlanta, Georgia, founded in 2003. GALEO strives for a better Georgia where the Latinx community is engaged civically. GALEO contributions are involved in increasing civic participation of the Latinx community and developing prominent Latino leaders throughout Georgia. – 888.54GALEO

Our report in the media:

Georgia’s Latino electorate grows in power, report shows via @11AliveNews #gapol #iamGALEO


The Jolt: GOP support could boost Kasim Reed’s comeback in Atlanta mayor’s race


Report shows growth of Latino vote in Georgia

El Nuevo Georgia


Conexión Fin De Semana | Univision Atlanta

Entrevista sobre el Voto Latino en Georgia en Conexión Fin De Semana

WABE A Closer Look with Rose Scott | NPR

New Report Outlines Latino Voter Engagement; Atlanta Moves Toward Revamping Parking Spaces To Outdoor Seating Areas | 90.1 FM WABE



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June 9, 2021


Karuna Ramachandran

404.585.8446 x 106

ATLANTA, GA —  Both Georgia’s Senate Reapportionment and Redistricting Committee and its House Legislative and Congressional Reapportionment Committee have announced that they will have a joint meeting on Tuesday, June 15, at 5:00 p.m. in Room 341 CAP, officially launching the state’s redistricting process. According to the announcement, the meeting will be available to the public via livestream.

While Georgians can sign up to provide comments at the meeting, the redistricting committees have failed to respond to advocates’ requests for transparency in the map drawing and approval process. Notably, the committees have not provided access to draft maps for public input, and there are still fundamental language access gaps, making it harder for residents who do not speak English or use English as their first language to participate in the process. In light of some of these challenges, members of the Georgia Redistricting Alliance are adamant that additional steps be taken to improve access to this process.

“Georgians are able to give input at the town halls planned by the joint redistricting committees of the Georgia Legislature,” said Helen Butler, Executive Director of Georgia Coalition for the People’s Agenda. “However it is unclear what the redistricting committees will do with the input they receive at these town halls. It is also unclear whether or not Georgians will have any opportunity to review mapping proposals before they are voted on by legislators. This is entirely unacceptable and we demand details about the actual process of redrawing district lines in Georgia.”

Gigi Pedraza, Executive Director of Latino Community Fund, Georgia agreed, noting that, “Redistricting is far too important to be conducted behind closed doors. These public town halls appear to be an attempt to check a box for public accountability without having a meaningful impact on the process. We cannot afford to be left out of this process that will impact our lives over the next 10 years.”

Advocates are on high alert in light of the challenging election season Georgians experienced during the General and U.S. Senate runoff elections. LaVita Tuff, Policy Director for Asian Americans Advancing Justice-Atlanta emphasized that, “the last year of elections has proved that Georgians want to be actively engaged in the political process. The Georgia legislature‘s proposed town halls, with their ‘English-only’ policies, are by no means accessible or inclusive. We demand that the redistricting process incorporates meaningful language access, so that all Georgians can participate.”

Jerry Gonzalez, Executive Director of Georgia Association for Latino Elected Officials also noted, “the Georgia legislature is holding public town halls across the state. However Georgians have received no concrete information about the redistricting special session that is rumored to be held this year. How can Georgians effectively give input on a process for which they do not have the full details? We demand and expect more meaningful integration of our community’s input.”

“Voters showed that they want to be engaged in the democratic process by turning out in record numbers in 2020 and early 2021,” said John Moye, Director – Policy & Legislative Affairs, Urban League of Greater Georgia. “In follow up interviews, our constituents said they selected candidates they believed would stand up for their families, values, needs, priorities, and justice. Clearly, voters want their voices heard, and redistricting will either amplify or silence their voices. We must allow citizen input as redistricting decisions are made.”

Wan R. Smith, Organizing Director of Georgia Conservation Voters stated, “We are not fooled by performance politics. The Georgia legislature’s public town halls are futile because without insight to the redistricting process and draft maps citizens will not be able to ask the right questions, provide meaningful feedback or make recommendations.”

Jewel Howard, Lead Organizer of 9to5, National Organization for Working Women stated, “Transparency in the map drawing and approval process is a way to make sure the plans are fair and provide communities with the full representation that every Georgia resident deserves.”

Phyllis Richardson, Governmental Affairs Director, Georgia WAND Education Fund stated, “The purpose of redistricting or redrawing the lines based on the information received from the census is designed to benefit the people and the communities they live in.  So, Georgia Legislators, how can you have a process that affects the resources, finances and green space of a community or have fair representation if the people of the community do not have a seat or place at the table of decisions? Therefore, the residents of Georgia deserve to have the right to participate in the redistricting process and the viewing of maps prior to any decision being made.”

April England-Albright, Legal Director of Black Voters Matter Fund, stated, “ In light of the opaque and  sometimes deceptive process that was recently used by the Georgia legislature to pass of one of the country’s most restrictive voter suppression bills, transparency throughout the redistricting process is more important than ever.  Hosting public town halls, without access to the draft maps for public input, does not equal transparency.  We demand that the redistricting committees fully disclose the redistricting process to all Georgians, and it should be communicated in ways accessible to all communities.

“Georgians deserve, and are entitled to, a fair and transparent redistricting process,” said Susannah Scott, president of the League of Women Voters of Georgia. “Without proposed draft maps for the public to provide input on, or a clear process for how the comments shared in the upcoming town halls will be utilized, there is no real transparency for Georgians. Without transparency, there is no guarantee of a fair process. The Georgia legislature can and must do better for the citizens it serves.”

Aunna Dennis, Executive Director of Common Cause Georgia, said:

“Common Cause Georgia urges our legislators to go beyond a ‘road show’ series of hearings, and to craft a process that truly empowers peoples’ voices to be heard. Redistricting should be about fairness and ensuring that all of us can have a voice in the decisions that affect our lives. Now, it is even more critical to be transparent and inclusive to bring Georgians together.”

Kayla Kane, Data and Research Analyst at Southern Poverty Law Center, stated:

“By their record turnout in recent elections, Georgia voters have shown that they want to be involved in the political process. However, the Georgia legislature’s lack of transparency on the timing of these redistricting town halls have made it nearly impossible for the average voter to follow the process. A fair districting process that represents communities equitably requires transparency so that politicians aren’t choosing their voters behind closed doors. Georgia residents deserve an open and fully transparent process. Anything less than full transparency quickens Georgia’s move away from a democracy that works for everyone.”

“We are committed to ensuring that community members understand they are constituents of the elected officials, and elected officials should work to represent the interests of their constituents,” said Deborah Scott, Executive Director for Georgia STAND-UP. “Drawing fair and equitable districts is necessary for equitable distribution of resources and representation. Georgia Stand-Up is committed to work with communities and our coalition partners to ensure fair elections that support.”


The Georgia Redistricting Alliance (GRA) is a coalition of organizations who believe that queer/trans BIPOC community should be at the forefront of the fight to protect our voting power and are preparing OUR communities to lead redistricting in 2021 and 2022. To learn more about GRA and our member organizations, please visit

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GA Legislature Quietly Schedules First Redistricting Hearing While Ignoring Calls for Transparency


CONTACT: Mia Arreguin,

GA Legislature Quietly Schedules First Redistricting Hearing While Ignoring Calls for Transparency

ATLANTA – Today, Georgia voting rights and fair redistricting advocates responded to the Georgia Senate Reapportionment and Redistricting and House Legislative and Congressional Reapportionment Committees (LCRO) quietly scheduling their first joint redistricting meeting to be held next Tuesday, June 15, at 5 p.m.

This first public hearing was scheduled quietly and abruptly in the face of repeatedly ignored calls from a coalition of progressive groups for increased public involvement, transparency, and reform and with no 2020 redistricting data or maps in hand.

Georgians must choose their elected officials, not the other way around. This can only happen through a redistricting process that is not shrouded in secrecy, but one that proactively brings in communities from across the state to make their voices heard at these critical public hearings.

Currently, all legislative communications with the LCRO, the office responsible for drawing or approving new maps, are considered legally confidential. Additionally, the Georgia General Assembly is excluded from the Open Meetings Act and Open Records Act. This limits visibility into a process that will impact Georgians’ lives for the next decade.

Rebecca DeHart, CEO of Fair Count said:

“Fair Count believes voters should pick our leaders – not vice-versa. Our votes for the next decade are at stake, as is an equitable distribution of resources for the next ten years. Fair Count will be working with voters across the state to create community maps so legislators can hear the voices of their constituents as they work to draw new voting districts. While gathering input over the next eleven meetings is important, Fair Count encourages legislators to gather public feedback throughout the state after the first draft of the maps have been drawn.”

Aunna Dennis, Executive Director of Common Cause Georgia, said:

“Common Cause Georgia urges our legislators to go beyond a ‘road show’ series of hearings, and to craft a process that truly empowers peoples’ voices to be heard. Redistricting should be about fairness and ensuring that all of us can have a voice in the decisions that affect our lives. Now, it is even more critical to be transparent and inclusive to bring Georgians together.” 

Theron Johnson, Georgia State Director of All on the Line, said: 

“The redistricting process is a fundamental part of the realization of our democracy. As Georgia prepares to embark on this year’s round of map drawing, it is imperative that we have a transparent, inclusive, and fair process that ultimately results in electoral maps that reflect the Georgia of now.”

Vyanti Joseph, Organizing Director of Asian American Advocacy Fund, said: 

“We demand that lawmakers hear from various groups of individuals from across our state. It is often the voices of our communities who get left out of these conversations while they are the most impacted in the redistricting process. The process should be fair and respectful of our communities. If we want our communities to thrive, we need to center and hear their needs over political motives. It is time for us to let our communities lead the redistricting process.”

Kayla Kane, Data and Research Analyst for the Southern Poverty Law Center, said:

“A fair districting process requires transparency so that politicians aren’t choosing their voters behind closed doors. For Georgia to reverse its recent path and actually build a stronger democracy, voters must be the ones making the decisions about who represents them and how policy over the next decade will affect them, their families, and their communities. Anything less than full transparency quickens Georgia’s move away from an equitable, true democracy.”

Ken Lawler, Chair of Fair Districts GA, said: 

Fair Districts GA urges the Senate and House committees to adopt the reforms requested in the coalition’s April 19 letter. These reforms are designed to allow significant public participation in and review of the map-drawing process.  We also stand ready to provide to the committees non-partisan, independent, fairness tests for maps once full census data are released. Meeting such benchmarks is an important part of a transparent redistricting process.”

Karuna Ramachandran, Director of Statewide Partnerships, Asian Americans Advancing Justice – Atlanta, said: 

“Georgians deserve to know full details for the redistricting process at every level of government. We must be informed about what criteria are being used to draw maps and how maps will be approved. As we mobilize community members across the state to share their stories and needs, we demand that action will be taken to ensure their needs are met. First and foremost this means ensuring that communities have the power to elect candidates of their choice.”


Part of the Progress Now network, Progress Georgia is a political digital and communications hub for the progressive movement in Georgia. Progress Georgia works to uplift the values and voices of the progressive movement across the state by keeping politicians accountable and elevating the issues that matter most to our communities. Learn more at

Taylor Robinson
Communications Manager, Progress Georgia
850-362-8422 |
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Latinx vs. Hispanic: ¿Por qué no los dos?

By Alba Villarreal

A common misconception is that terms such as Latinx and Hispanic are interchangeable. If someone is an immigrant from Latin America, what does that make them? What about immigrants from Spain? Can more than one term be used, and if so, how? Understanding identity and the words used to describe it are nuanced and can vary person by person. Therefore, it is incredibly important that we understand the terms for what they are.

In short, Hispanic is used to describe someone with origins from a Spanish-speaking country, regardless of whether it is located in Latin America. Latinx is the gender neutral term used to describe people with Latin American origins. 

Historical Origins

In the 1970s, there was a boom in immigration to the United States from Latin America, especially from Mexico and Puerto Rico. The term “Hispanic” first emerged as a method of identifying them on the U.S. Census in 1980. Prior to this, people with Latin American origins struggled finding a term that they could identify with. Hispanic became that term. Despite this, many criticized it because it includes people from Spain, who do not share the same cultural experiences as people from Latin American descent. 

Latino became the obvious alternative because many believe it captures the history and culture of immigrants and includes folks from non-Spanish speaking countries such as Brazil. Yet the gendered term was not sufficient for many activists. In the height of LGBTQ+ liberation movements, queer and trans activists in Latin America coined the term Latinx to be more innclusive. While not as popular, the term “Latine” has also been used as a gender neutral alternative. 

Modern Usage
Today, both terms are used within communities of Latin American origin with Hispanic being the more popular option and the only term officially recognized in the U.S. Census. According to Pew Research Center, one fourth of all Hispanic people in the United States have heard of “Latinx” while only 3% use it. The study also highlights the different usage rates between U.S.-born Hipanics and foreign born, indicating that those native to the United States have a higher chance of knowing it and using it. Due to its minimal use, Latinx is often ostracized. However, many activists fighting for more gender-inclusivity advocate for the term. 

Which one?
In terms of political correctness, both Hispanic and Latinx can be used depending on who is being referred to. Many people from countries such as Mexico, Colombia, and El Salvador for example can use both while people from Spain can only use Hispanic and Brazilians can use Lainx. Ultimately,  it comes down to personal preference. Whether it is Hispanic, Latinx, Latine, or Latino/a, each has its own significance that cannot be oversimplified. 


Noe-Bustamante, L., Mora, L., & Lopez, M. H. (2021, March 15). Latinx Used by Just 3% of U.S. Hispanics. About One-in-Four Have Heard of It. Pew Research Center’s Hispanic Trends Project. 

Simón, Yara. “Latino, Hispanic, Latinx, Chicano: The History Behind the Terms.”, A&E Television Networks, 14 Sept. 2020, 

Roth, Minhae Shim. “Experts Explain What Latinx Means and How to Use It.” Good Housekeeping, Good Housekeeping, 12 Feb. 2021, 

NOTE: The opinions expressed in this blog are the opinions of the author only. It is not to be assumed that the opinions are those of GALEO or the GALEO Latino Community Development Fund. For the official position on any issue for GALEO, please contact Jerry Gonzalez, CEO of GALEO at  

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Were We Counted? How the 2020 Census Might Affect Latino Georgia

Since 1790, the United States has conducted a decennial enumeration of its population.

This process has three primary functions in our society: 1) reapportionment of electors and representatives, 2) redrawing of electoral districts, and 3) distribution of federal funds. Among the information collected in the 2020 census is the number of people living in a home, whether the home is owned or rented, the sex, age, race/ethnicity of the residents, and familial relationships of the individuals living therein. While the 2020 census was the first to offer three full response options (internet, paper, or phone), there are some systemic factors that led to the undercounting of the Latino communities. The U.S. Census Bureau responded to the COVID-19 pandemic by suspending key operations and reducing the number of active workers. Despite these challenges, officials failed to adequately extend the field collection period.

In March 2018, Wilbur Ross (secretary of the Department of Commerce) decided that after 70 years of dearth, the census would once again include a question about the citizenship of individuals. The change would logically lead to dissuasion of immigrants to participate in the census, thereby changing the official demographic count. A collective lawsuit was launched against Ross and the Commerce Department. The Supreme Court’s decided that despite the addition being allowed under the Constitution, the lack of genuine justification for the change constituted a violation of the Administrative Protection Act. Unfortunately, due to extensive media coverage of the administration’s intentions, it is expected that a consequential number of noncitizens failed to self-report. A 2019 Census Test sampling 480,000 homes found that areas with more than 49.1% Hispanic residents, areas with more than 4.9% noncitizens, and areas designated to receive bilingual materials experienced statistically significant lower self-response rates when the citizenship question was included.

The 2019 American Community Survey estimated that the Hispanic-Latino ethnicity constitutes 9.8% of Georgia’s population and thus is the third largest minority group in the state. Since the year 2000, the Latino population has grown by 129% and it continues to expand rapidly. For these reasons, it is becoming more and more vital to take the community into account when making policy decisions. Many states have found success in multimillion dollar marketing campaigns specifically targeting communities. Annually, $1.5 trillion in federal funds are distributed to state and local governments based on census data. This money is utilized in schools, housing, public transport, infrastructure, emergency services and more. When populations are undercounted, these public services become strained resulting in more crime, decreased standard of living, less job opportunities, and, in some cases, loss of lives.

Historically, undercounting has disproportionately affected minority communities and has resulted in long-term harm. The results of the 2020 census indicate a serious disparity between projected Representative reapportionment and actual results in states with fast-growing Latino populations. Inaccurate counts can allow for ruling parties to restructure electoral districts in their favor. The practice, referred to as ‘Gerrymandering’’, can disenfranchise minorities which tend to vote one way or the other. ‘Cracking’ can occur when minority constituencies are divided between multiple districts, preventing them from forming a majority in any one district.

Alternatively, ‘packing’ occurs when the minority group is solely placed in one district, minimizing its influence in others. It would be best to avoid either situation as both can result in diminished representation.

Given the delays caused by the pandemic, Georgia and other states will have to enact a special session to address redistricting based on the 2020 census data. State legislative and congressional districts will be decided by the Republican-led legislature. State code regulates that there will be 180 State House districts and 56 State Senate districts. Fortunately for interested citizens, the legislature will host a series of public meetings where individuals can learn about the process and provide feedback. In a state where the most recent presidential election was decided by 12,000 individuals, political parties must strive to earn Latino votes.


Sources 2a55-e179-40bc-9415-d4a5237e46c4 hen-we-see-local-changes/4868944001/


Latinos in Georgia 202019%20US%20Census,from%20two%20or%20more%20races. hen-we-see-local-changes/4868944001/

/ ver-systemic-undercount-of tinos-in-new-census-data/ 0314-story.html s-2020-work-bureau-director-s is-put-to-the-test ative eady-to-respond-but-dont-know-key-details/ nt/plan/testing-activities/2019-census-test/2019-census-test-report.html

NOTE: The opinions expressed in this blog are the opinions of the author only. It is not to be assumed that the opinions are those of GALEO or the GALEO Latino Community Development Fund. For the official position on any issue for GALEO, please contact Jerry Gonzalez, CEO of GALEO at  

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May 11, 2021

James C. Woo
404.585.8446 x 104

Atlanta, GA — Today, the Georgia Immigrant Rights Alliance (GIRA) commends the Biden administration for its decision to redesignate Temporary Protected Status (TPS) for nationals of Haiti for eighteen months. TPS provides protection from deportation and permission to work for eligible nationals of countries that have been designated temporarily too dangerous for return. More than 100,000 Haitians living in the United States potentially stand to benefit from the redesignation.

Throughout the previous presidency, the administration attempted to dismantle TPS protections for all designated countries, including Haiti, despite the severe country conditions that continue to make returning unsafe. Considering the country’s widespread violence, political and civil unrest, economic concerns, humanitarian strife, the ongoing COVID-19 crisis, and the lack of available vaccines, it was necessary for Haiti’s TPS status to be redesignated. The Biden administration has made the just and fact-based decision to continue protections for Haitian nationals living in the United States.

Haiti was one of the countries affected by the ongoing Ramos litigation. The Ramos case challenged the previous administration’s attempts to dismantle TPS and prevented Haiti’s previous TPS designation from being terminated. The Biden administration’s decision to redesignate Haiti represents its promise to review country conditions in the Ramos countries.

LaVita Tuff, Policy Director, Asian Americans Advancing Justice-Atlanta stated: “While we commend the Biden administration and Secretary Alejandro Mayorkas for reinstating TPS for Haiti, we urge the Biden administration to continue to rebuild our immigration system so that it can welcome all who seek safety and refuge. Redesignating TPS for Haiti is just one step forward to ensuring racial and immigrant justice within our immigration system.”

Maria Palacios, Executive Director, GA Familias Unidas stated: “As an advocate for the immigrant community at large, I strongly reiterate my continued support for Haiti and all other recipients and potential recipients of temporary protection, such as Deferred Enforced Departure (DED) and Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA). For too long the lives of Haiti community members and others have remained tethered to the ever changing politics surrounding immigration rather than common sense policies that provide stability and keep families together. It is time for a more permanent solution for all those with temporary status, and we at GA Familias Unidas will continue to advocate for smart and humane immigration policy in the years to come.”

Glory Kilanko, Founder and CEO, Women Watch Afrika stated: “During an unprecedented global pandemic, it is more important than ever that everyone stands in solidarity with immigrant communities in the United States. We commend Secretary Alejandro Mayorkas and the Biden administration for honoring their pledge to reinstate TPS for Haiti, prioritizing humane and pragmatic solutions for immigrant communities, and we hope to see more of the same in the future.

Asian Americans Advancing Justice-Atlanta is the first nonprofit legal advocacy organization dedicated to protecting the civil rights of Asian Americans, Native Hawaiian, Pacific Islander (AANHPI) and Arab, Middle Eastern, Muslim, and South Asian (AMEMSA) communities in Georgia and the Southeast. For more information about Advancing Justice-Atlanta, visit

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

GA Familias Unidas

Georgia Association of Latino Elected Officials (GALEO)

Georgia Muslim Voter Project

Latino Community Fund Georgia

SPLC Action Fund

Sur Legal Collaborative

U-Lead Athens

Women Watch Afrika

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Georgia Advisory Committee to the U.S. Commission on Civil Rights Hosts Second Panel Discussion on Civil Asset Forfeiture and its Impact on Communities of Color

PRESS RELEASE                                                                                  

May 4, 2021           

Georgia Advisory Committee to the U.S. Commission on Civil Rights

Hosts Second Panel Discussion on Civil Asset Forfeiture and its Impact on Communities of Color

The Georgia Advisory Committee to the U.S. Commission on Civil Rights announces its second panel of speakers to provide testimony on the impact of civil asset forfeiture on communities of color in the state. The Committee is hosting a series of public meetings to gather testimony regarding the extent to which civil asset forfeiture practices in Georgia may have a discriminatory impact on the basis of race, color, or national origin.

The meeting will take place via web conference on Monday May 10, 2021 at 12pm Eastern Time. The public may register for the event online (audio/visual), at: The public may also join the call by phone (audio only) at 800-360-9505; Access code 199 105 0985. Closed captions will be provided. Individuals requiring other accommodations should contact the regional program unit at (202) 618-4158 five business days prior to the meeting to make their request.

The agenda for this second panel of speakers includes:

  • Eric Cochling, Chief Program Officer and General Counsel, Georgia Center for Opportunity
  • Sandra Scott, Representative, District 76, Georgia House of Representatives
  • Chris Bruce, Legislative Director, American Civil Liberties Union of Georgia
  • Jennifer McDonald, Senior Research Analyst, Institute for Justice

Members of the public will be invited to speak during an open comment period near the end of the meeting. The Committee will hear testimony from additional speakers to be scheduled throughout spring 2021. The Committee will also accept written testimony submitted to throughout the duration of this project. The Committee’s first meeting took place via web conference on Wednesday March 10, 2021 from 2-3:45 pm Eastern Time. Records from this meeting including a recording and meeting transcript are available at:

“Civil forfeiture allows police to seize, then keep or sell the property alleged to be involved in a crime. This practice allows many police departments to use forfeiture to benefit their bottom lines, which increases seizures motivated by profit rather than fighting crime,” said Committee Chair Chantel Mullen. “The owners of said property may not ever be arrested or convicted of a crime for them to permanently lose their cash, cars, businesses, or even their homes. This is a civil rights issue of enormous concern that deserves deeper research and discussion on its impact on Georgians from already marginalized communities.”

The Georgia Advisory Committee will issue findings and recommendations in a report to the Commission after all testimony has been received.


The U.S. Commission on Civil Rights, established by the Civil Rights Act of 1957, is the only independent, bipartisan agency charged with advising the President and Congress on civil rights and reporting annually on federal civil rights enforcement. Our 51 state Advisory Committees offer a broad perspective on civil rights concerns at state and local levels. For information about the Commission, please visit and follow us on Twitter and Facebook.

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Latino student population falls behind as pandemic widens education gap

Ojima Abalaka / for NBC News

Latino student population falls behind as pandemic widens education gap

Written By: Stefany Alvarado, Spring 2021 Intern

 In August of 2020, a photograph of two young girls in pink, sitting on a curb outside of a Taco Bell in Salinas, California, went viral. These Latinas didn’t go to the fast-food restaurant for crunchy tacos or loaded nachos. They went for the Wi-Fi.

This viral image represents the digital divide that widens the education gap, leaving many minority students behind. Some students do not have access to the internet, do not have a computer, or share a single computer with other family members.

A SOMOS survey conducted early in the pandemic showed that 37% of Latinos did not have access to broadband internet, and 32% did not have enough computers to accommodate the entire family. Latinos across the nation, including those in Georgia, are experiencing this digital divide.

In an interview with 11Alive News, Nury Castillo Crawford, an academic director and lead for a Hispanic mentorship program in the Gwinnett County Public Schools system, said, “I feel like this is just another variable that helps widen that [education] gap, and then some of our kids might not ever get out of that.”

Similar to the Taco Bell story, Crawford shared details of knowing a local family that walked to a McDonald’s parking lot for their children to finish school work. As 33% of students in Gwinnett County are Hispanic/Latino, Crawford’s interaction confirms the digital divide in Georgia’s Latino communities must be addressed.

This divide has also impacted academic performance. Issues with lack of resources, such as study aids, stable technology, internet access, and educational support systems, have contributed to a drop in Latino students’ test scores. A study done by NWEA shows that Latino students scored lower in math and reading than their Caucasian counterparts during the fall of 2020. Renaissance Learning, Inc. reported similar findings in decreased math and reading scores for Latino students.

To combat the digital divide in Georgia, more funding and resources are being administered to high-need communities. Atlanta Public Schools partnered with Comcast to give students free laptops and 12 months of free high-speed internet. DeKalb County Schools, Marietta City Schools, and Gwinnett County provided Chromebooks and hotspots to their students. Cobb County also pledged to provide more devices.

In addition, AT&T donated money to the Georgia Department of Education (GaDOE) for distance learning efforts. These funds were used to deploy 448 Wi-Fi rangers to 36 school districts, which Marietta chose to have on their school buses. Communities across the state celebrated the addition of these Wi-Fi buses.

GaDOE also partnered with Verizon to provide internet access, devices, and security solutions to 12.5 million students across Georgia and ten other states.

As decreasing test scores of Latino students show a widening education gap, more resources are being provided for similarly underserved communities. The Georgia Broadband Deployment Initiative is keeping track of which districts still need internet access. Budget cuts and adjustments are also under review.

NOTE: The opinions expressed in this blog are the opinions of the author only. It is not to be assumed that the opinions are those of GALEO or the GALEO Latino Community Development Fund. For the official position on any issue for GALEO, please contact Jerry Gonzalez, CEO of GALEO at  

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Climate change as a catalyst for Latino migration to the United States

Jorge Cabrera/Reuters

Climate change as a catalyst for Latino migration to the United States

By Stefany Alvarado

Since the beginning of its creation, the United States has been defined as a nation of immigrants. It exists only because of the continuous intake of foreign newcomers, ultimately establishing a unique culture composed of people from diverse backgrounds. However, the immigration flow has shifted since Latin Americans have gradually entered the United States at higher rates than in previous decades.

Information from the Pew Research Center shows the number of immigrants from Latin America and Mexico increased from 3% to 29% between the years 1960 and 2010.

Why do Latinos migrate to the United States? 

There are several reasons immigrants leave Latin American countries to build a permanent life in the United States. A few of those factors include violence, corruption, inadequate education, and lack of resources in their motherlands. However, an aspect not often discussed relates to environmental issues. In fact, climate change interacts with all domains of migration. Understanding how climate change affects communities in Latin America may contextualize general Latino migration to the United States.

Environmental Factors Affecting Agricultural Communities

Environmental factors involving climate change have exacerbated Latin American emigration. Two phenomena are essential in understanding the implications weather and climate have on agricultural communities such as those found in Guatemala.

The first is the Central American Dry Corridor (CADC) that spans southern Mexico, Guatemala, Honduras, El Salvador, Nicaragua, Costa Rica, and Panama. The Dry Corridor is a region known for its extreme susceptibility to climate change. It is known explicitly for experiencing periodic drought and flooding patterns that disrupt the cultivation and harvesting of crops such as maize, beans, and coffee.

Image from Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations. 

The second phenomenon is the El Niño-Southern Oscillation (ENSO) cycle, an irregular pattern of winds and sea temperatures across the Equatorial Pacific Ocean, affecting eastern Asia and the Americas. When El Niño happens, warm winds from southeast Asia move toward Central and South America, resulting in floods across some Latino nations. El Niño recedes to Asia when an upwelling of deep, cold ocean water rises near Central and South America, creating floods and droughts across different regions in Latin America. This part of the oscillation is called La Niña.

The ENSO cycle perpetuates the agricultural suffering in countries comprising the Dry Corridor because its movement determines the occurrence of either droughts or floods. In other words, farmers suffer the loss of a harvest and will no longer have a form of income or food source. It’s even more challenging to prepare for this because no two events and two sets of impacts are precisely the same. There might be too much water or no water at all. The result is emigration from Latino lands.

In April 2019, sixteen-year-old Juan de Leon Gutierrez of Tizamarte, Guatemala, did just that. He migrated to the United States to earn money he could not make as a farmer in the Dry Corridor. The drought in his hometown left his family malnourished with no aliments to eat or sell. Food insecurity was a serious issue. Unfortunately, he fled the effects of climate change to later die in U.S. custody from an infection in his brain.

Other effects of climate change include mudslides, tropical storms, and hurricanes. These natural disasters harm populations by disrupting a nation’s clean water supply, transportation routes, and housing. Honduras is one of those nations that has been plagued with several natural disasters.

In 1998, a Category 5 hurricane, the highest level on the Saffir-Simpson Hurricane Wind Scale, hit Central America. Hurricane Mitch was the second deadliest hurricane on the Atlantic, killing and displacing thousands of people. Honduras especially felt its effects as it left millions homeless. This natural disaster prompted Honduran migration to the United States.

Since Hurricane Mitch, Honduras has experienced several more tropical cyclones. More recently, the nation saw two Category 4 hurricanes, Eta and Iota, in November of 2020. Families lost their homes, farms, schools, and roads to landslides and flooding. Water systems collapsed, and thousands of families were displaced. It was again prompting Honduran migration to the United States.

Climate Change in the Cycle of Agricultural Poverty

Climate change is a severe factor influencing Latin American migration into the States, especially in countries with an immense farming population. However, it is not the sole reason Latinos make the journey. It’s a nexus of factors that intersect with climate.

Changing climate patterns are creating inconsistent harvesting schedules, leading to food insecurity and ultimately malnutrition. Tropical storms, landslides, and flooding are also displacing entire communities. This, coupled with corruption and violence, creates a weakened governmental infrastructure unable to help the suffering agricultural community. Adding inaccessibility of education only further complicates the situation because farmers are limited to working only in the fields, meaning they are more likely to remain in a cycle of poverty.

Migration to the United States

Hoping to leave this cycle of poverty, Latinos from Mexico, Central America, and South America make their way to the United States. Once they cross the US-Mexico border, they move to cities that offer labor opportunities. Amongst those cities is Atlanta, Georgia.

In 2014, about 45% of the Hispanic population in the Atlanta-Sandy Springs-Roswell area were foreign-born. This statistic shows that nearly two-thirds of the Latino population in the Atlanta area migrated into the United States from Mexico and El Salvador.

Georgia is also known for attracting Latinos into cities such as Gainesville and Dalton. Gainesville has a high Latino population that works in the poultry plants, and Dalton has a high Latino population that works in carpet mills.

Providing aid to Latino Immigrants

Though more data is needed to identify climate change migrants in Georgia, it is evident that climate affects migration patterns. Latino immigrants entering and residing in the state can look to institutions such as the Mexican Consulate, the Latin American Association, the Latino Community Fund, GALEO, and others for resources.

In addition to local and state organizations, federal intervention is necessary to maximize the resources of vulnerable migrants. The United States can specifically help climate migrants through Humanitarian Parole, Deferred Enforced Departure (DED), Temporary Protected Status (TPS), and the Compact of Free Association (CFA). However, the U.S. does not recognize those displaced by climate change as refugees.

International aid is also coming from the United Nations, World Bank, and CARE International, to name a few.  Additional aid is being dispatched through the Biden administration. According to the Council on Foreign Relations, Biden plans to send 4 billion dollars to the Northern Triangle of Central America, which includes Guatemala, Honduras, and El Salvador, to “assist civil society organizations, reform-minded public institutions, and vulnerable communion to reducing poverty, curbing violence, and building climate resilience.”

NOTE: The opinions expressed in this blog are the opinions of the author only. It is not to be assumed that the opinions are those of GALEO or the GALEO Latino Community Development Fund. For the official position on any issue for GALEO, please contact Jerry Gonzalez, CEO of GALEO at  


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STATEMENT OF ADVOCACY: Call for the Georgia Professional Standards Commission to Require ESOL Preparation Courses for all Georgia Certified Teachers

STATEMENT OF ADVOCACY: Call for the Georgia Professional Standards Commission to Require ESOL Preparation Courses for all Georgia Certified Teachers


GATESOL, LCF Georgia, GALAS, and GALEO join together to urge the Georgia Professional Standards Commission to acknowledge that all K-12 teacher preparation programs should require ESOL courses, including cultural and linguistic knowledge and methods that reflect current research and best practices in teaching multilingual learners.



  • Georgia’s educational history tells a story of students from a variety of backgrounds facing In October of 2020 three federal cases were under investigation for discrimination of multilingual learners in Georgia. Stephen Owens airms, “Any argument that ELs are not receiving the resources they need to have equal opportunities would be backed up by history, current litigation and student test scores.”
  • A S. Department of Justice finding that Massachusetts was violating the civil rights of students by failing to ensure that their teachers are adequately trained to teach multilingual learners forced the state to put guidelines in place to address this problem. Core academic teachers of multilingual learners, principals, assistant principals, supervisors, and directors who evaluate those teachers must now all obtain training and licensure requirements for the Sheltered English Immersion Endorsement.
  • Many states join with Massachusetts in setting minimum requirements for ESOL preparation courses for teacher certification in order to both protect the educational rights of multilingual learners and to airm a commitment to address the persistent gap in academic proficiency experienced by multilingual learners. States that require this (at least for any classroom with multilingual learners) include: Alabama, Alaska, California, Connecticut, Delaware, Florida, New Jersey, New York, Oregon, Pennsylvania, and Virginia.

We acknowledge Georgia Professional Standards Commission’s dedication to high standards and to ensuring that Georgia certified teachers are well prepared for the challenges they face in the classroom. We appreciate your consideration of requiring ESOL preparation courses for K-12 teacher certification.

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