Victory in KY against Anti-Immigrant Copycat Bill
“As you probably know, SB 6 passed the Senate but never actually came before the House for a vote. We had several committee hearings on the bill but the significant and vocal opposition to the measure derailed it for the session.” ~State Representative David Osborne
We won! For the first few months of 2011, Kentucky Jobs with Justice was part of a powerful group of individuals and organizations from across our state who fought back against anti-immigrant Senate Bill 6. SB6 is Arizona SB1070 copycat legislation that would target anyone for detention who does not speak English or who appears to have been born outside of the U.S. It would target anyone who “assists” an undocumented worker or their undocumented children. Furthermore, SB 6 would make many immigrant crime victims, including victims of domestic violence, think twice about reporting crimes or cooperating with police it they fear racial profiling or bias.
Kentucky Jobs with Justice stands in solidarity with our immigrant brothers and sisters who are facing anti-immigrant attacks from those who prefer to divide our country instead of build our communities. Many of the immigrants who would be racially profiled in Kentucky represent working families that are contributing members of our communities and our neighborhoods.
Every step along the way in fighting back against this bill we were intentional in building up the leadership of young people, women and people of color and in strengthening our Black-Brown alliances. On the program team, we fought to lift up the stories of undocumented immigrants and to hold the rally outside in solidarity with undocumented immigrants who were not able to enter our capitol building because they were without government-issued photo identification. We got the Laborers union to send one of its organizers to speak and we fought to make sure that the KY DREAM students were in leadership and had a voice.
How did we win in a conservative, mostly rural, overwhelmingly White, Southern state like Kentucky? We brought our unique organizing style to a large, statewide table. We helped to get hundreds of good people from across Kentucky to converge on Frankfort (our state capitol) to lobby legislators, build alliances and stand strong against SB6. We helped to lead a delegation of voices to present a Resolution to the Jefferson County Public Schools’ board of education opposing SB6. Because of our steadfast commitment to building a powerful immigration movement in Kentucky out of a response to this hate-filled moment, we worked with our friends to craft the Resolution that was presented to the Board by parents of immigrant children and by public school teachers. A few weeks later, when the Board was scheduled to vote on the Resolution, we did the relationship-building needed to get a high school student from Adelante! Hispanic Achievers to speak at that meeting (this has never happened before) and to get an educator from the University of Louisville and representative of the ACLU of Kentucky to speak. On Monday, February 14th, the school board voted to unanimously show us some love by approving a measure to amend its legislative agenda to include opposition to SB6. Labor activist and school board member Larry Hujo added, “…and any bill that resembles SB6!”
Although SB6 did pass in the Senate in January, it stalled in the House local government committee in March and our regular legislative session ended on Wednesday, March 9th.
Along with our staunch allies in this journey, we navigated through a small, interconnected social justice community and raised tough questions about the purpose of our proposed actions and who were these actions truly designed to benefit: our immigrant communities or the organizers who are paid to do this work. We mobilize differently from the default form of organizing in our city and state and that is what makes us a valuable asset to human rights and social justice work at the local and state level.
What do we want now?!? We are continuing the good organizing that started and plan a "Stop the Deportations" action on May Day, are working on getting the Metro Council in Louisville to issue a statement supporting our local immigrant communities and we’re building our statewide network.