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New Report Shows Georgia’s ‘Felony Driving Law’s’ Disproportionate Impact on Communities of Color

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Atlanta – A new report by Advancement Project and the Georgia Latino Alliance for Human Rights (GLAHR) finds that Georgia’s “felony driving law” has produced staggeringly disproportionate arrests and penalties in communities of color, even though the number of White residents is much higher in the jurisdictions examined. Further, the law also replicates the “ATM effect” that the U.S. Dept. of Justice found in Ferguson, Mo. and its surrounding areas, transferring large amounts of money from poor families to local governments. After publishing the report, the national civil rights and racial justice organization Advancement Project, partner organizations and affected parties released the following statements:

“From Fayette County to Roswell City and beyond, people like Ignacio, Toñita, Gloria and their children live every day with the heavy consequences of rampant criminalization by the state’s ‘felony driving law,’” said Adelina Nicholls, Executive Director of GLAHR. “They do not pose any kind of threat, yet they are targeted by authorities because the state promotes an environment where people of color are criminalized, deported and used as ATMs for the government. The law was immoral to begin with – it was intended to hurt families who come here to work and give back to the state. Our new report shows that it has devastated communities of color, and we are united in demanding an end to the measure. We will not live in fear, and we will fight this law until families like Toñita’s, Gloria’s and Ignacio’s are no longer besieged by it.”

“This report is a significant first step,” said Francys Johnson, Georgia NAACP President and Stateboro Civil Rights Attorney. “The Georgia NAACP is looking into the pattern and practice of using traffic laws to generate revenue; disenfranchise voters; and deport undocumented Americans. Our goal is to repeal this unjust law.”

“Georgia’s far-reaching, anti-immigrant ‘felony driving law’ was designed to push mothers, fathers and immigrant families to leave the state,” said the report’s lead author, Flavia Jiménez, a Senior Attorney and Director of Immigrant Justice at Advancement Project. “As our new report shows, the law has not only ruined the lives of many it set out to harm; the law affects families well beyond those it targeted, and the effects overwhelmingly burden people of color. As such, we call on state lawmakers to repeal the law, and demand that the U.S. Department of Justice immediately begin a pattern and practice investigation.”

“I am an employer putting two kids through college – a breadwinner trying to help my family succeed,” said Ignacio Portillo, a construction contractor who is father to four children and employs six workers. “When the state charges me more than $1,300 for driving without a license, like it did this week, that’s money I can’t invest into my business or put into my daughters’ education. But let’s be clear: This is a discriminatory law, it is implemented immorally, and it is a stain on the state legislature. We must repeal this law immediately and stop targeting communities of color.”


Advancement Project is a multi-racial civil rights organization. Founded by a team of veteran civil rights lawyers in 1999, Advancement Project was created to develop and inspire community-based solutions based on the same high quality legal analysis and public education campaigns that produced the landmark civil rights victories of earlier eras.

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