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Monday, March 20, 2006

Spreading fear

By Alyssa Abkowitz

The state Senate's passing of Senate Bill 529 -- a comprehensive bill aimed at decreasing the influx of illegal immigrants in the state -- triggered uproar in Hispanic communities late last week.

On Thursday, an anonymous flier written in poor Spanish circulated among several of Atlanta's Latino neighborhoods and Hispanic radio stations. The flier urged Latinos to keep their children home from school and not report to work on Friday because government officials planned to raid various locales. In addition, the flier asked Latinos to meet in Five Points at 10 a.m. to protest Senate Bill 529.

The flier didn't list any organization backing the boycott and the city of Atlanta didn't grant a permit for such a gathering. What's more, the Georgia Association of Latino Elected Officials noted that U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement and the Mexican Consulate didn't know of any scheduled raids.

The Mexican-American Legal Defense and Educational Fund said the boycott may be tied to the release of Walkout, a new film on HBO that tells the story of the 1968 student walkouts in East Los Angeles. Though several Hispanic organizations quelled the potential boycott in time, they've received word that it might be rescheduled for this Friday.

This boycott -- caused by fear -- is just the beginning of what could happen if various communities don't help citizens and immigrants understand the impact of Senate Bill 529. Let's hope Latino organizations, the media and other community outlets can stop misinformation from spreading before disruption occurs.

Let us know if you have any information about the anonymous flier or another boycott.

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