Azadeh N. Shahshahani: Commission should rethink 287(g) approval
by Azadeh N. Shahshahani
Guest Columnist
October 15, 2009 01:00 AM | 6852 views | 65 65 comments | 21 21 recommendations | email to a friend | print
The Cobb County Board of Commissioners voted Tuesday to accept Sheriff Neil Warren's recommendation on the re-signing of the 287(g) Agreement with Immigration and Customs Enforcement. They should reconsider this decision.

The 287(g) program delegates immigration enforcement authority to specific local police agencies. The Cobb Sheriff's Office is one of the five agencies in Georgia that has entered into a Memorandum of Agreement with Immigration and Customs Enforcement to participate in enforcement of federal civil immigration laws.

Though initially intended as a measure to combat violent crime and other felonies such as gang activity and drug trafficking, 287(g) programs have in fact undermined public safety, as immigrant communities, fearful of being deported, hesitate to report crime. The Major Cities Chiefs Association and the Police Foundation have both found that participating in 287(g) programs has harmed community policing efforts.

This trend is documented by the ACLU of Georgia report released Monday titled: "Terror and Isolation in Cobb: How Unchecked Police Power under 287(g) had Torn Families Apart and Threatened Public Safety." The report is based on interviews with 10 community members affected by the program as well as five community advocates and attorneys based in Cobb.

As the report documents, in Cobb specifically, there has been a widespread increase in fear to report crime and mistrust in law enforcement as a result of 287(g). Immigrants feel afraid to seek assistance from law enforcement, even when they are the victims of crimes themselves. This factor poses a public safety threat to all county residents. One community member named Joanna mentioned to us that she once even put out the fire in her kitchen herself, because she was afraid to call 911.

In addition, law enforcement agencies that reallocate limited resources towards cracking down on violations such as driving without a license or lack of insurance may have scarce means left with which to combat crimes of violence and other felonies. In Cobb, immigrants disappear into detention for violations such as having a broken tail light or tinted windows on their car. In 2008, Cobb County turned over 3,180 detainees to ICE for deportation. Of those, 2,180, about 69 percent, were arrested for traffic violations.

In addition, the program has encouraged and served as a justification for racial profiling and human rights violations by some police acting as immigration agents. As the ACLU of Georgia report shows, Cobb officers have misused the power granted to them under the agreement by engaging in racial profiling of Latino communities and detaining individuals in the Cobb jail for unconstitutionally prolonged time periods. A telling example is the case of Jonathan, a Latino man who was shopping for jewelry for his girlfriend at Macy's when he was followed by a security guard who then called the Cobb Police. Jonathan was detained by the officer without being informed about the reason. He was subsequently charged with loitering and deported. The loitering charge was later dismissed by the district attorney without a hearing. His family now lives in constant fear of the "seemingly unlimited power of the police to arrest a Latino person for any or no reason at all."

There is currently no meaningful check in place to ensure that local law enforcement do not abuse the program by intimidating and racially profiling immigrant communities in Cobb. A Government Accountability Office investigation earlier this year found ICE was not exercising proper oversight over local or state agencies. This problem is compounded in Georgia, as there is no state legislation banning racial profiling and mandating accountability and transparency for law enforcement.

The minor changes in the program recently announced by the Department of Homeland Security make no serious attempt at discouraging profiling or reducing its negative impact on public safety. In addition, the new MOA actually takes a step backwards in the area of transparency, as it attempts to further shield 287(g) from public scrutiny by declaring that documents related to 287(g) are no longer public records.

In late August, more than 521 organizations across the country, many of which in Georgia, called on the Obama Administration to end 287(g), citing the serious problems associated with the program, including racial profiling. The groups were recently joined in this demand by the Congressional Hispanic Caucus. In addition, in a recent letter to the Obama administration, the United Nations Committee on the Elimination of Racial Discrimination urged the administration and Congress to do more to end racial profiling by reconsidering the 287(g) program.

The ACLU of Georgia was joined Monday by faith and community leaders from Cobb and around the state in reiterating this demand. 287(g) programs waste local resources and hinder local police ability to effectively protect public safety in Cobb and other communities around the State. It is time for Cobb to walk away from 287(g).

Azadeh N. Shahshahani is National Security/Immigrants' Rights Project Director American Civil Liberties Union of Georgia.
Comments-icon Post a Comment
Roland - Austell
October 25, 2009
I just read each and every post here. I agree with what one writer wrote in paticular: The ACLU deserves our everlasting THANKS! for being so blatantly and extremely un-American and helping us to come together here!
October 22, 2009
Special interests push U.S. population to 439 million by 2050 - 80% from immigration.

Our U.S. society works because we live by a Social Contract which is a two way street.

Government provides internal country order by upholding the rules of law, protects her citizenry from external invasion, and maintains an honest currency.

Citizens support our country if there is war, abide by the internal laws, and pay taxes.

As a member of special interests, President Obama refuses to protect the U.S. from invasion by upholding existing immigration & border laws. Instead, his administration has weakened internal enforcement 287(g). After healthcare, he will deliver comprehensive immigration reform (amnesty for 12 million illegal aliens). We are grateful to our local Georgia Sheriffs Warren and Conway to provide our only protection against these lawbreakers.

Despite our need for human compassion for the 77 million people added to the world each year and our drive for diversity, our U.S. society including our English language, our American culture, our ERs, schools, water/sewer, roads, parks, and prisons are vulnerable against this breach in the Social Contract.

Rodney in Austell
October 20, 2009
This ACLU critter has th esame column in the atlanta paper today.

Like most Americans who can think: if the ACLU is against it, I am for it.
mk-HERO Warren!
October 20, 2009
To keep up w/ headlinnes of events along the border & throughout the country reguarding illegal immigration, check out the website 'American Patrol'. Very enlightening.
October 19, 2009
I live in South Georgia - just got back from Atlanta (Canton area) - stopped @ a gas station and there were @ least 50 hispanics standing on the corner, when a hummer (driven by another hispanic) pulled up - they all went running to the hummer. Why are these people not picked up? If for nothing else...loitering??? Also while recently in another GA town - ran into some ICE people - they claim their hands are tied by politicians/constitutens with money who hire illegals. If ICE has their hands tied what are we to expect???? That is their job isn't it????
Roland - Austell
October 19, 2009
Austell is over run with illegals who brag about being illegal! Can I please demand that I don't need a drivers license as a human right?

The ACLU hates America. I am proud that the majority of posts here are for the American side.
American worker
October 19, 2009
Kelly works for ACLU
October 19, 2009
Yo- Kerry McGrath : I am an African American who welcomes 287 (g) are doing a great job of following the instructions we got in the ACLU seminar ( remember me?)on how to race-bait our way through resistance to local enforcement. The trouble is, everyone can see that it is nonsense.

No one is being stopped without cause. Go back to the calss and learn another silly point. REAL Americans think 287 (g) is saving lives!
Kerry McGrath
October 19, 2009
I don't think 287(g) is best for Americans. It is not the best use of our limited law enforcement dollars. It is not good for our communities when Americans who are non-Anglo are afraid of being stopped by the police without cause. We do not benefit when our US citizen children do not want to go to school because they are afraid their parents will not be there when they return.
October 18, 2009
Illegal imigration is a crime. This woman is trained to spout talking points until YOU vomit...which I will no doubt do if I read this again.

This is why I left California - the illegals and the ACLU-La Raza communists. There, we hear little English in many places.

I now live in Cobb. The open borders socialists are everywhere now.
October 18, 2009
One way to solve this is to make sure no illegal is hired. No work, no pay. Refuse to do business with people who hire them. And as for those whiners about "human rights", well, what about our human rights? Why do we have to allow our schools, hospitals and courts to become overwhelmed with these people who are indeed, illegals. This is a great country and you left-wingers might ask yourself what the world would look like if we had not helped so many with money and our real treasure, our men and women.
Cizers Gobblegook
October 17, 2009
PLEASE keep running letters from the ACLU! This is good stuff! - I have been laughing for a2 days now. I knew they were far left, but not as vacant in the noodle.

For the past 30 years, the American Civil Liberties Union has conducted a legal war on the Boy Scouts. Now it is borders and immigration laws.

You can't fix stupid.
Darlene in Smyrna
October 17, 2009
"Hijacking local resources to do the government's job just makes no sense. "

Geez, these people are totally out of it! WE ARE THE PEOPLE - WE ARE AMERICA! It is easy to see that the government is the enemy to the ACLU nuts How insipid can these arguments get? I may go to an ACLU meeting instead of a movie soon - I am guessing it would be far more entertaining! hahahaahahahahahaahahaa...

October 17, 2009
Sarahi is one of the more enlightened people who also marches to demand that the immigration laws are not enforced by the feds. In other words, no matter who is doing it - enforcement is un-American, right Sarahi?

These ACLU people(?) are nearly as dishonest as they are mindless.
October 16, 2009
Excellent piece! There's a good reason why the largest police associations in the country have rejected 287(g) programs. It's simple: its bad for public safety. A community is safer when everyone can report crimes. Hijacking local resources to do the government's job just makes no sense.

Readers should also note that the ACLU is not alone in their assessment of the dangers and failure of this program. They are joined by the Major Cities Police Chief Organization, the Police Foundation, numerous Congressional leaders, and 521 other organizations nationwide.
Emily Dearborn Esq.
October 16, 2009
lainy - your statement "287 is wrought with federal preemption problems, and it is a tragedy that its local enforcement has led to these inequities" may get you applause at the corner flag-burning Mao meeting, but please spare us the display of your lack of knowledge. You are fooling no one.

IF section 287 G of the 1996 amendments to the Immigration & Nationality Act were really

"wrought with federal preemption problems..." MALDEF, LA RAZA, ACLU , and every immigration lawyer in the country would have been in court screaming for it to be overturned long ago.

Stay away from the legalise - you need to stick to the mindless racial talk OK? You people are too funny. But:neither "illegal" or "Hispanic" is a "race" dearie.

The "inequities" are in the lack of equal justice under law. It is revealing how uposet you lefties get when we approach that right granted us.

Tell the Americans who are watching unemployment go to 10% while illegals still work- illegally and use our services. You & the rest of the far left have been succesful in waking the real sleeping giant. The majority of Americans.

Neil Warren, thank you sir.
Allen Brock
October 16, 2009
Since when does calling someone who willing broke our laws by entering this country illegally make you a racist. I did not know that being an illegal immigrant qualified a person as a part of a new race. The were not deported for the traffic violation or for their skin color, they were deported for being here illegally. The sherriff's department only checks on the status of someone and turns over to ICE if illegal. I say give them more money to expand the program. It is working!
October 16, 2009
Mexico boast they have at least 14 million of their citizens illegally in the US with other Central & Latin American countries boasting they have 500k to 1 million each. The use of "racial profiling" is a ploy used by the amnesty crowd to try to stop enforcement of our immigration laws. They do not really care about the plight of the illegals but push for amnesty to obtain a power base for themselves. Americans are pulled over all the time for "missing tail lights" and other minor offenses and YES, have to show ID.

Houston is a sanctuary city whose own police officers have protested this practice. Before one brags out how Houston "got it right", they might want to check with the thousands of Americans killed, raped, robbed and maimed by illegal aliens in that city. If there is any SHAME it is borne by our government that fails to protect the American people by thwarting our immigration laws catering to special interest and big business.

As for one posters comment that these people should be given a free pass because they "just want a better life", you might want to visit the DEA & FBI Most Wanted web sites for a glimpse of the type of people entering this country. Read the report from the Violent Crimes Institute concerning the increase of rape against children as young as 1 yr old by illegal immigrants who see no problem with this practice because it is acceptable in their country. Fraud/identity theft has increased.Part of the housing crisis was created by illegal immigrants committing fraud/identity theft to buy homes and before an open border supported claims that to be a lie, I personally audited thousands of these loans. It was not uncommon to find one SS# being used by 23 Hispanics. Does this mean ALL are bad people...absolutely not, however without the legal process of coming to this country, these types of people are here.

To Anntbo,my grandparents came here LEGALLY and did not get off the boat with their hands outstretched for free services. They fled the Nazi's & some in the family didn't make it out, hardly a priveledged life.Their journey was much more than simply crossing a border.They worked hard, learned English,became proud American Citizens and respected the laws of this country and the American Flag.You need to learn the difference between Legal & Illegal immigrants.

American Citizens/Legal Immigrants are the REAL VICTIMS of illegal immigration but no one speaks out for them. They just become yet another statistic added to the thousands,in the local news while the open borders crowd bemoan the few hundred illegal immigrants that die trying to illegally enter this country.

Illegal immigrants and their supporters demand "respect". Well , respect is earned and violating the sovereignty of the US and their citizens does not warrant it.
Marcia Abernathy
October 16, 2009
Nice to see the knee-jerk ACLU hangers-on post here. It helps us see how they "feel". DO NOT hold out hope that they will ever actually think.

"anntbo" is likely a real case named Anton Flores - Google "anton flores immigration ga" to see how far out there he is.

THANK YOU ACLU for waking up the few in Cobb who weren't already vocal about the curse of illegal immigration. And reminding us that you really are too slow to recognize that at least partial enforcement of the law is all that keeps most of Mexico from overflowing into our country.

Your attitude of moral superiority is almost funny - if you weren't so dangerous to our children.

In your honor dear ACLU kids, I just sent a nice donation to D.A. King - a great American. I would donate to Sheriff Warren if he weren't an elected official that cannot accept help.

M.A. Smyrna age 38, MBA, black, proud and mad as HECK.
October 16, 2009
It's about time we start discussing these issues and though I am disheartened by the vitriol in the preceding comments, I am nevertheless happy to see such a thoughtful, eloquent piece on this issue.

I am perpetually proud that we are a nation of shared cultures, dreams of a brighter future, and sometimes, tolerance. More than anything, I am proud we are a country which demands equal protection and due process for PERSONS, and not only citizens.

287 is wrought with federal preemption problems, and it is a tragedy that its local enforcement has led to these inequities.

Georgia is a beautiful state, and I am proud that we can attempt live up to its beauty by having civil discussions about the state of human rights in each of our counties.
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