Georgia's Accidental Immigration Activist
Tuesday, June 12th, 2012
He’s a 60-year-old self-styled conservative Republican who long has lived in a farming area in south Georgia.
Life for Paul Bridges was about work, his family and his three goats – Susan, Clarissa and Bridget – who he milks at least twice a day.
When Bridges heard snippets about a plan that fellow Republican lawmakers in his state were working on to crack down on illegal immigration, he was firmly in favor of the idea.
“I was all for it,” Bridges says about Georgia’s law, known as HB 87. “We have to know who’s coming across our borders. I thought it would make us safer. I swallowed it, what they said about the law, until I actually read it. This law makes our communities more unsafe by making people afraid [of police].”
“This law makes criminals of ordinary people, people who are very productive in our communities, who participate, parents who have U.S. citizen children.”
And so Bridges, in his third year now as mayor of Uvalda, a 1.9-square-mile town of just 600 people – many tied in one way or another to farming – found himself on the front lines of the fight against his state’s immigration law.