Asylum processes at the U.S.-Mexico border in Tijuana, unpaid labor for those incarcerated and a documentary regarding the human remains found at the University of Georgia’s Baldwin Hall in 2015 were among the topics the Athens for Everyone board of directors discussed on Monday night.
The board held a public meeting on Jan. 28 as they reviewed reports such as recruitment and outreach, and discussed different proposals on their agenda.
There were two main proposals on the docket.
The first proposal mentioned included a discussion referencing a new documentary about the local controversy and historical significance surrounding the handling of roughly 105 hundred-year-old grave sites found during construction of Baldwin Hall, most likely belonging to slaves.
Joe Lavine, a member of A4E, spoke about his 60-minute documentary regarding the discovery at Baldwin Hall and how it plays into the “legacy of slavery” at UGA. Titled “Below Baldwin,” more information such as its release date is coming out soon.
“[It] tells the story about how UGA responded...how administration has neglected to recognize the university's history of slavery and how that relates to UGA’s labor practices,” Lavine said.
The other proposal was for A4E to oppose the Unified Government of Athens-Clarke County’s use of unpaid labor from people who are incarcerated.
Jesse Houle, Local Political Coordinator, and Rachelle Berry, a member of A4E, attended a Federation of Neighborhoods forum in which they questioned the situation on prison labor. They found that incarcerated people from state prison for county departments or jail in Clark County aren't being paid for internal labor.
“It is legally possible in Georgia to be paying people who are doing this labor, so we don’t have that kind of legal restriction,” Houle said. “It’s not happening here.”
The proposal was unanimously passed with no arguments, meaning that they have decided to take the position and will proceed to look into more research. They will also look into how they want to connect the issue to the legacy of slavery, Houle said.
Imani Scott-Blackwell — member coordinator for A4E and president of UGA’s Athens Anti-Discrimination Movement — and A4E member Stephanie Flores both worked in Tijuana, Mexico, to support asylum-seekers from Central America during the asylum process. They provided a report for board members and attendees.
“Essentially people come...to get their numbers [with slots per number] and that number then designates when they get to go on the bus to go into detention,” Scott-Blackwell said. “And then [they start] the asylum ticketing process [to] the United States from that point.”
They worked in conjunction with the New Sanctuary Coalition, an organization that supports immigrants who face detention and deportation. Scott-Blackwell believes that there is no consistency with the numbers system as she recounted her experience driving the immigrants to the location to get their numbers.
“On my first day of driving someone from a shelter to present themselves with their family, their two year old daughter didn’t have a slot on the number,” Scott-Blackwell said. “They put it to a vote to decide whether or not the little girl would be able to go with her family.”
Scott-Blackwell wishes to receive a monthly stipend from A4E to match her own in order to afford monthly payments on housing in Tijuana. She also wants to bring involvement back to Athens with a potential housing share initiative or program.
Another meeting will be held for a full presentation on Tijuana and future involvement which will take place at Feb. 2 at the Athens-Clarke County Library from 3 to 5 p.m.