FIRM Spotlight: NAKASEC - In Georgia, Advocates Speak out Against Harmful Bill

driving-license In Georgia, a battle is being waged over immigrant access to Drivers' Licenses.  Recently introduced bill SB67 would restrict licenses to "english-proficient"drivers; not only denying proper licenses to many of the state's limited english proficient residents, but also discouraging foreign investment in the area.

Georgia is home to one of the fastest growing Korean-American populations in the country, and this bill would be especially detrimental to the Korean- American population, 70% of which is limited english proficient.

Korean car companym Kia is set to open a 2,200 acre manufacturing plant in West Point, Georgia, creating thousands of new jobs for Georgia residents. However, bills like SB67 (or as it has been dubbed, the "Kia go home" bill) discourage investment from foreign businesses, which in turn discourages job creation.

Our partners at GALEO and NAKASEC have spoken out against the bill. Jerry Gonzalez, Executive Director of GALEO, said:

GALEO is proud to have allies in opposition of SB67 within the Asian American community in Georgia and nationally. SB67, the "Kia Go Home!" and "Driving Jobs Away from Georgia" legislation would hurt Georgia's economic viability in attracting and retaining foreign investment.

Obviously, we would call on Governor Sonny Perdue and House Speaker Glen Richardson to demonstrate leadership to curtail the anti-immigrant legislation and prevent it from moving forward. If SB67 moves forward, the Georgia Legislature will be sending a strong message that foreign investment is not welcome in Georgia.

I would urge our state leadership to take a stand against SB67 for Georgia's future economic viability.

And Eunsook Lee, the Executive Director of NAKASEC (the National Korean American Service and Education Consortium) wrote directly to Georgia's governor, Sonny Perdue.

This misguided state bill would create unnecessary barriers for limited English proficient (LEP) individuals from securing driver's licenses. 75% of adult Korean Americans are LEP and as you may know, Georgia is home to one of the fastest growing Korean American populations. Between 2000 and 2007, the Korean American population increased from 28,745 to 42,760, representing a significant 49% increase.

SB67 targets immigrants who contribute to the economic engine of this country and hinders their ability to obtain Driver's License. The ability for immigrants to possess Driver's License would allow for motor vehicles to be properly registered and operated in a safe manner, which benefit all Georgians.

What our country needs during this period of great economic crisis are measures that enable and strengthen contributions from all those who are ready to work in the best interest of our country. Unfortunately, SB67 sends an unwelcoming message to all individuals and corporations that are willing to invest in Georgia.

FIRM stands with our partners at GALEO and NAKASEC in opposing this harmful piece of legislation. We must encourage and welcome everyone who wants to parcitipate in and contribute to our economic recovery.  The selfish politics of individual gain are what got us into this crisis and we must learn to work together, for the good of everyone, if we have a shot at getting ourselves out of it.