Georgia’s gubernatorial race has brought minority communities to the forefront of the fight for a decision that would greatly impact their lives. Seemingly affected by the Trump’s 2016 presidential campaign to rid America of undocumented immigrants, state and local Republican candidates largely adopted anti-immigrant politics to their campaign in Georgia’s gubernatorial race. Casey Cagle promised to abolish sanctuary cities in Georgia, something human rights advocates worked hard to achieve. Both Michael Williams and Brian Kemp indifferently proposed to “round up illegals” in Georgia.
For many Latinos, this was a personal threat that demonized their community. After all, 7/10ths of Latinos in Georgia are unable to vote because of their undocumented status according to the Pew Research Center for Hispanic Trends. Williams, a Republican candidate in the primaries employed xenophobic phrases in his campaign’s deportation bus, “Follow Me To Mexico.” He positioned the words, “murderers, rapists, child molesters, and other criminals on board,” associating the latter with the former. Ultimately, the rhetoric dismisses the dignity of working families who have felt the brunt of increasing immigration policies. William’s loss at the end of the primaries might have signaled Georgia citizen’s discord with intolerant policies had not Cagle and Kemp employed such tactics to rally who they believed represented Georgia.
Stacey Abrams, the Democratic Party’s candidate after the primaries rose with a clear message that she supported immigrant communities. Addressing the undocumented community in solidarity Stacey declared in her campaign page that “in the last few years, you have shown incredible strength in the face of brutal attacks. The anti-immigrant rhetoric and actions of this administration are cruel, inhumane, and must be opposed in the strongest terms.”
Mijente, a national community organizing group that connects local organizations developed a campaign called Gente For Abrams. Gente For Abrams became a way for Latinx, undocumented and documented to join the fight in the electoral process by sharing with Latinos who can vote their reason to push for Abrams. Gente 4 Abrams rallied local Latinx community members and engaged them with educational resources to learn how they could get involved such as canvassing.
“This is the first C4 campaign in the state of Georgia that targets Latinxs, informing them about who to vote for,” stated Tania Unzueta, the Campaign Director of Gente for Abrams.
Since the primaries, Gente For Abrams has knocked on 51,000 thousand doors with a goal of 20,000 more before the November elections. The campaign not only focuses in the Atlanta area, it also engages Latinos in rural areas of Georgia. Kathy Diaz, the campaigns Volunteer and Event coordinator stated that in one weekend alone, it was able to reach nearly 900 people by participating in other progressive events. In one day, six volunteers were able to knock on the doors of over 300 people. The broad majority of leaders and volunteers have been undocumented, women, and youth who envision an intersectional future.
“I feel like the youth have enough power to make a change,” said Oscar Flores, an eighteen-year-old volunteer.
For the campaign, supporting someone who calls for undocumented immigrants to have a welcoming space means that they have a choice in the political decisions that are made that impact their lives. It also creates a foot in the door for more humane policies toward undocumented immigrants in the increasingly intolerant south. Even more powerful, the campaign represents the growing community who are have a history in Georgia to organize peacefully to bring change. The South has a great potential to change its culture. With a steady involvement of immigrants, minorities and welcoming Americans, the South has an opportunity to claim a greatness that root itself in the Civil Rights Struggle that continued the push forward for equal treatment. The social justice tree of Georgia increasingly draws strength from communities around the world who envision a life full of flourishment.