Saturday, August 27, 2011

Civil Rights Conference at Georgia Law, Immigration at the Forefront in the Peach State

Yesterday, the Georgia Law Review produced a first rate conference on “Civil Rights and Civil Wants?” at the Dean Rusk Center at the University of Georgia Law School in Athens, Georgia. The symposium commemorated the 50th anniversary of the desegregation of the University of Georgia.

The Senior Symposium Editor Jennifer Lee Case, with the help and support of a group of law review editors, including Editor in Chief Frederick Vaughan, organized a first rate group of scholars to present papers on a full range of current and future civil rights concerns, including Immigration, International Human Rights, Education, and Privacy.

Since this is an immigration blog, I will focus on the panel on immigration, which included Professor Linda Hill Kelly (Indiana-Indianapolis), who presented a paper on asylum claims by youths who fled persecution by gangs in their native country. I presented my paper entitled "Immigration and Civil Rights: State and Local efforts to Regulate Immigration." 46 Ga. L. Rev. (forthcoming 2012). See Download Georgia. Charles Kuck, who teaches immigration law at Georgia and was one of the counsel on the case of Georgia Latino Alliance for Human Rights v. Deal, 20-11 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 69600 (June 27, 2011), which invalidated several key provisions of Georgia’s immigration law (House Bill 87), served as the moderator.

The conference gave me the opportunity to catch up with a new addition to the Georgia law faculty (and my former colleague), Diane Marie Amann , who moderated the international human rights panel and already seems beloved at her new school. I also was able to meet Georgia Dean Rebecca White, Associate Dean Paul Kurtz, Georgia Law Professors Bertis Downs (who, cooly enough, has represented R.E.M. for years) and Christian Turner, and Ambassador Don Johnson, Director of the Dean Rusk Center. I also enjoyed meeting panelists Dean Maurice Daniels (School of Social Work, Georgia ) and Professors Derek Black (Howard) and Bradley Areheart (Stetson).

Stacey Y. Abrams
, the House Minority Leader for the Georgia General Assembly and graduate of the Yale Law School, offered an inspiring keynote address about the civil rights challenges of the 21st century.

All of the papers for the symposium were submitted in advance of the conference and will be published in volume 46 of the Georgia Law Review in the spring 2012.

Georgia has seen a fair amount of action in the realm of immigration in the last few years. In part, this is a response to the fact that the state has seen a considerable increase in the Mexican immigrant population over the last 20 years. The reaction has not always been hospitable. House Bill 87, which is the subject of a court injunction, mirrors Arizona's S.B. 1070 (for example, requiring state and local police to investigate the immigration status of any person they have probable cause to belive committed a crime and have a "reasonable suspicion" is undocumented) and represents the state's efforts to aggressively enforce the U.S. immigration laws. Growers have claimed that HB 87 has scared immigrants away and that they now find it difficult to find workers. Reminiscent of the old chain gangs, the state of Georgia put probationers to work in the fields.

Moreover, the Georgia Board of Regents passed a resolution barring undocumented students from the state's most selective public universities. In response, a newspaper on the day of the conference reported that some University of Georgia professors would teach a class at a "Freedom University" for undocumented college students.

I returned to California thinking that there is lots going on with respect to immigration in the Peach State!


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