The 2014 John F. Kennedy Profile in Courage Award Acceptance Speech by Paul W. Bridges

In 2011, Paul W. Bridges, then the mayor of Uvalda, Georgia, joined a federal lawsuit filed by the ACLU to stop the implementation of H.B. 87, a law aimed at driving illegal immigrants out of Georgia. As written, H.B. 87 authorized police to demand “papers” demonstrating immigration status during traffic stops, and criminalized Georgians who knowingly interact with undocumented individuals, among other measures.

 Bridges, a Republican who was elected mayor in 2009, was the only politician to join the suit. He argued that the law would inhumanely separate families and was likely to have dire economic consequences for farming. Bridges himself would have been engaged in criminal behavior under the law, he said, because he often gave rides to undocumented immigrants who were his friends. As a result of his decision to publicly oppose the law, Bridges withstood scathing criticism from anti-immigration partisans around the country, and lost popular support at home.