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

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE: JUNE 8, 2021

CONTACT: Mia Arreguin, mia@progressga.org

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.”

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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 https://progressga.org/.

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

By Alba Villarreal

Introduction
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. 

Sources 

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. https://www.pewresearch.org/hispanic/2020/08/11/about-one-in-four-u-s-hispanics-have-heard-of-latinx-but-just-3-use-it/. 

Simón, Yara. “Latino, Hispanic, Latinx, Chicano: The History Behind the Terms.” History.com, A&E Television Networks, 14 Sept. 2020, www.history.com/news/hispanic-latino-latinx-chicano-background. 

Roth, Minhae Shim. “Experts Explain What Latinx Means and How to Use It.” Good Housekeeping, Good Housekeeping, 12 Feb. 2021, www.goodhousekeeping.com/life/a33806428/what-latinx-means/. 

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 jerry@galeo.org.  

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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

https://www.vox.com/identities/2020/5/12/21250766/census-2020-undercount-black-latino-asian https://www.politico.com/news/2021/04/27/census-latinos-count-484846 https://ballotpedia.org/Redistricting

https://www.gpb.org/news/2021/04/05/the-next-big-political-battle-in-georgia-redistricting https://www.11alive.com/article/news/politics/2021-redistricting-georgia-power-struggle/85-72a9 2a55-e179-40bc-9415-d4a5237e46c4

https://gerrymander.princeton.edu/reforms/GA https://latino.ucla.edu/research/redrawing-californias-political-lines/

https://www.onlineathens.com/story/news/state/2021/04/28/2020-census-georgia-redistricting-w hen-we-see-local-changes/4868944001/

Census

Latinos in Georgia https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Demographics_of_Georgia_(U.S._state)#:~:text=According%20to% 202019%20US%20Census,from%20two%20or%20more%20races.

https://www.onlineathens.com/story/news/state/2021/04/28/2020-census-georgia-redistricting-w hen-we-see-local-changes/4868944001/

https://www.nytimes.com/2021/04/28/us/politics/2020-census-hispanics-latinos.html https://www.washingtonpost.com/outlook/2021/05/01/hispanics-census-undercount-house-seats

/

https://thehill.com/changing-america/respect/accessibility/550697-census-controversy-brewing-o ver-systemic-undercount-of

https://www.salon.com/2021/04/27/trumps-final-act-of-sabotage-likely-systemic-undercount-of-la tinos-in-new-census-data/

https://2020census.gov/en.html https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/2020_United_States_redistricting_cycle https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Gerrymandering

https://www.census.gov/library/working-papers/2017/decennial/census-data-federal-funds.html https://www.law.cornell.edu/uscode/text/13/141

https://www.cnn.com/2019/07/11/politics/trump-census-executive-action/index.html https://www.theguardian.com/us-news/2020/aug/04/us-census-bureau-trump-americans https://www.cbsnews.com/news/census-citizenship-question-opposition-anti-immigrant/ https://www.latimes.com/politics/la-na-pol-census-hearing-citizenship-question-wilbur-ross-2019 0314-story.html

https://www.npr.org/2018/07/11/627350553/citizenship-question-controversy-complicating-censu s-2020-work-bureau-director-s

https://www.npr.org/2019/06/13/731629018/as-legal-battle-persists-census-citizenship-question- is-put-to-the-test

https://apps.npr.org/documents/document.html?id=4797159-Understanding-the-Quality-of-Altern ative

https://www.npr.org/2019/03/31/707899218/what-you-need-to-know-about-the-2020-census https://www.pewresearch.org/social-trends/2020/02/20/most-adults-aware-of-2020-census-and-r eady-to-respond-but-dont-know-key-details/

https://www.census.gov/programs-surveys/decennial-census/decade/2020/planning-manageme 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 jerry@galeo.org.  

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THE GEORGIA IMMIGRANT RIGHTS ALLIANCE COMMENDS REDESIGNATION OF TEMPORARY PROTECTED STATUS FOR HAITI

THE GEORGIA IMMIGRANT RIGHTS ALLIANCE COMMENDS REDESIGNATION OF TEMPORARY PROTECTED STATUS FOR HAITI

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE

May 11, 2021

CONTACT INFORMATION
James C. Woo
404.585.8446 x 104
jwoo@advancingjustice-atlanta.org

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 https://advancingjustice-atlanta.org.

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: https://bit.ly/3mvDOh2. 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 mwojnaroski@usccr.gov 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: https://bit.ly/3xxVJsF.

“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.

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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 www.usccr.gov 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 jerry@galeo.org.  

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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 jerry@galeo.org.  

 

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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

WE ASK:

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.

WE BELIEVE:

WE ACKNOWLEDGE:

  • 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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The Troubling Vaccination Rate of Latinos in Georgia

Image from: https://voiceofoc.org/2021/01/latinos-are-being-left-behind-in-ocs-coronavirus-vaccination-efforts/

The Troubling Vaccination Rate of Latinos in Georgia

By Rodrigo Ruiz-Tello   

April 7, 2021

It has been over a year since the first Coronavirus case was discovered in Georgia. Today, there have been revolutionary advances in controlling the spread of the novel virus with vaccines developed by Pfizer, Moderna, and Johnson & Johnson. As of April 6, 2021, there have been 4.28 million doses distributed in Georgia, and 1.42 million Georgians are fully vaccinated. However, only 26.5% of Georgia’s population received at least one dose. As the tremendous effort to get Georgia’s residents vaccinated continues, there have been issues emerging regarding minorities having a slower vaccination rate. According to the Georgia Department of Public Health, only 3.3% of the Georgians who have received at least one dose of the vaccine are Latinos. To what can we attribute the slow vaccination rate of Latinos in Georgia?

One of the various factors in Latinos’ slow vaccination rate is that they are hesitant to receive the vaccine. This result is due to the lack of information in Spanish and other prominent languages in the Latino community, increasing doubt and misinformation across the population. An interview conducted by the Georgia Public Broadcast found that Latinos desire to hear from their community physicians who have first-hand experience with the vaccine. (Leon, 2021). However, with many vaccinations occurring in the pharmacies of several grocery stores, such as Wal-Mart, Kroger, and Publix, there has not been the opportunity of having Spanish-speaking physicians accessible to many Latinos.

Cost is also a factor that many consider when deciding on receiving the COVID-19 vaccine. Due to the lack of translated information, Latinos are unaware that the vaccine is accessible to anyone, regardless of their immigration status. Part of the 1.9 Trillion Stimulus Plan that President Biden introduced at the beginning of his term sets a portion of its funds to provide this healthcare aid to all populations free of any cost (Shroeder, 2021).

While many distrust the vaccine, undocumented Latinos in Georgia are afraid to provide information that may form part of databases when registering to have the vaccine administered. Before receiving the COVID-19 vaccine, the patient is asked for their identification or driver’s license and their health insurance card, which are items that an undocumented immigrant is not eligible to receive. However, Latinos are unaware that they can present their foreign identification and not provide actual health insurance. The Center for Disease Control and Prevention and the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services stated that the information gathered from these vaccine registrations would strictly be used for public health purposes and will not be shared with law enforcement or any other agency.

Finally, another prominent issue in the Latino community regarding vaccination is transportation and location. Many Latinos depend on relatives to find a place where they can be vaccinated without fearing a language barrier. According to a study conducted by the Atlanta Archdiocese, roughly 64% of Metro Atlanta Latinos only spoke Spanish or indigenous languages. Along with finding a location, older Latinos depend heavily on their children to attend the vaccination sites. Furthermore, the areas with the highest population of Latinos in Georgia can be found in North Georgia counties, such as Gwinnett, which plays a prominent role in the availability of vaccines.

The vaccine has been distributed in Georgia at a decent pace. However, with the very little information provided to non-English speakers, there has been an irregular vaccination rate for residents of color, specifically Latinos. The state of Georgia should work alongside the organizations actively providing translated information, such as the Latino Community Fund (LCF) and the Consulate General of Mexico, to improve the disproportionate vaccination rates (Suro, 2021).

Resources:

CORE Sites for vaccinations in Cobb, Dekalb, and Fulton.

Information regarding the Covid-19 vaccine from the CDC:

Locate a vaccination site:

  • https://www.cdc.gov/vaccines/covid-19/reporting/vaccinefinder/about.html

 

Works Cited

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Hispanic_and_Latino_communities_in_Metro_Atlanta

https://experience.arcgis.com/experience/3d8eea39f5c1443db1743a4cb8948a9c

https://www.gpb.org/news/2021/02/02/many-latinos-are-hesitant-get-covid-19-vaccine

https://www.goodrx.com/covid-19/are-undocumented-immigrants-eligible-for-covid-19-vaccine

https://news.google.com/covid19/map?hl=en-US&mid=%2Fm%2F0d0x8&state=7&gl=US&ceid=US%3Aen

https://www.11alive.com/article/news/health/coronavirus/local-organization-hopes-to-bring-vaccine-hesitancy-down-in-latino-community-by-providing-information-in-spanish/85-2b9e1150-66c9-4f79-af4e-2e0812a96811

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 jerry@galeo.org.  

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Despite Voter Suppression Attempt, Still We Persist

Despite Voter Suppression Attempts, Still We Persist

By Helen Butler, Executive Director, The People’s Agenda

This year’s legislative session has brought with it many twists and turns. On the heels of record turnout during our General and U.S. Senate Runoffs, and following the January 6th insurrection on Capitol Hill, members of our state legislature sought to totally upend the democratic process in Georgia. After a slew of voter suppression bills aimed at limiting access to the ballot passed along partisan lines, Governor Brian Kemp recently signed into law an omnibus bill that rolls back voting rights, especially for the most underrepresented and vulnerable members of our communities.

It’s hard to believe that in 2021 we find ourselves on the front lines of a battle against Jim Crow-era like restrictions. Given the massive turnout by voters of color and traditionally “hard to count” residents of our state, however, it’s sadly not a surprise. But, despite the odds against us, we remain undeterred and more committed than ever to make sure we have a fully functioning, equitable and participatory democracy at work in this state. Instead of making it harder to vote, we fervently believe that now is the time to make engaging in the civic process easier for Georgia residents.

The people of this great state, especially New Americans and people of color, have been hit particularly hard by the COVID-19 pandemic. According to the Georgia Budget and Policy Institute, by November of last year, Black Georgians had filed 71% more continued jobless claims than white, Asian and Hispanic/Latinx residents combined. The dramatic increase in anti-Asian hate nationwide hit us particularly hard when just weeks ago six Asian women were brutally murdered at Atlanta-areas spas in senseless acts of violence and cowardice. And Latino members of our communities, many of whom are classified as “essential workers” account for nearly one-quarter (21%) of active COVID cases around the state. The social and economic consequences of the pandemic are very real, and in times like this, our elected leaders must reflect the needs and values of the communities they represent. Unfortunately, partisan politics has taken precedence over the needs of real people and the new voting laws we now face will make it harder for significant portions of our communities to actively participate in electoral politics.

Contrary to what their proponents claim, these laws do nothing to protect the electoral process and, instead, do everything to reduce voting options for everyday Georgia residents, especially members of our historically underserved and underrepresented communities. The most egregious of laws restricts voting by mail (absentee voting), shortens the time frames to conduct runoff elections, increases voter identification requirements, reduces the presence of dropboxes in communities, and wrests control of elections administration from local elections officials. The power grab at play serves to do little more than complicate our elections process and further disconnects people from participating fully in our representative democracy. Yet and still, we persist.

Lawsuits are already underway challenging these mass attempts at voter suppression. And while we disavow any legislation that disadvantages or disenfranchises Georgia voters, we are prepared to meet this moment. Our job, as organizers and community advocates, is to make sure that Georgia voters are well apprised of the impact of these new rules and that they are adequately prepared to register and turn out the vote in future elections. Georgia voters deserve to be full participants in our democratic society, and where legislation has failed to make their participation easier, organizations like ours stand on the front lines ready to help people better connect with the electoral process.

Faced with the most egregious attack on voting rights our state has seen in at least two generations, we are encouraging people to stay vigilant and aware. We understand that there is so much that life is throwing our way at this moment, but we want people to remain optimistic, hopeful, and engaged. If our voices and votes didn’t matter so much no one would actively try to suppress them. We know that the road ahead may not be easy, but we are determined to help our state’s democracy live up to expectations. Our voices matter and our votes will count. 2020 turnout was just the beginning. We are forging ahead with an even deeper focus and stronger sense of purpose. Together, we intend to set in motion a wave of civic engagement the likes of which this state has never seen before.

Signatory Organizations 

  1. The People’s Agenda
  2. League of Women Voters of Georgia
  3. Lawyers’ Committee for Civil Rights Under Law
  4. Women Watch Afrika
  5. Feminist Women’s Health Center
  6. Georgia STAND-UP
  7. Georgia Equality
  8. Rep GA Institute Inc.
  9. Step Up Savannah
  10. GALEO
  11. GALEO Latino Community Development Fund
  12. GALEO Impact Fund, Inc.
  13. Women Engaged
  14. 9to5 Georgia
  15. Planned Parenthood Southeast Advocates
  16. ACLU of Georgia
  17. Care in Action
  18. Center for Pan Asian Community Services (CPACS)
  19. Progress Georgia
  20. New Georgia Project
  21. Partnership for Southern Equity
  22. All Voting is Local, Georgia
  23. Black Voters Matter Fund
  24. Atlanta Jobs with Justice
  25. Georgia WAND Education Fund
  26. Environment Georgia
  27. Georgia Budget and Policy Institute
  28. Georgia NAACP
  29. Georgia Muslim Voter Project
  30. Common Cause GA
  31. Asian Americans Advancing Justice – Atlanta
  32. McIntosh SEED
  33. National Domestic Workers Alliance-Georgia
  34. Faith in Public Life
  35. New American Pathways
  36. National Asian Pacific American Women’s Forum
  37. Georgia Conservation Voters
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