Time For Cobb County To Walk Away From 287(g)

(Originally posted on The Marietta Daily Journal Online)

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).

Read the ACLU of Georgia's report on Cobb County here.

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Em Zar

I have a couple of questions; hope this is the right forum in which to ask.

1)If it's illegal to be in the US without authorization, why when immigrants are arrested for such, aren't they Mirandized? How aren't they entitled to public defenders?

2) If it's because the ICE considers this to be a "civil" matter, then how can the immigrant be detained? Losers of civil judgments aren't locked up. There's no debtor prison, for instance.

3) Along the same lines, why doesn't "habeus corpus" apply?

4) Since the constitution does discuss citizenship, and extends protection to "persons," not just citizens, how is this detainment, and failure to Mirandize immigrants, not unconstitutional? What happened to equal protection and due process?

5) The ICE uses the word "FUGITIVE" to define immigrants fleeing deportation proceedings. Doesn't "fugitive" mean "criminal?" (Someone refusing to pay a judgment isn't a fugitive, for example.) So how can the ICE categorize such cases as "civil?"

6) Can anyone please give me info on class-action suits which have been filed to this effect?

I am not a lawyer, so many of the sources I've googled aren't within my understanding.

Thank you.


Georgia please disband the ICE unit.
We do not need more police running around
in their commando outfits, with
semi-automatic machine guns, night vision
goggles, and a hard on to exceed their mandated arrest numbers for the month.
They have too much power and prey on
those without the resources to defend them
selves. (The drug enforcement
task force units comes to mind here).
We practically live in a police state
now. If there is a financial incentive
for county government to start "ICE"
squads then every county in Ga. will want one regardless of whether
they have an immigrant population or
not. Enough is enough. We do not need
any more bozo's out there patting down
Granny for a green card for God's sake.

Jeff Thompson

Ah, Cobb County. I left there 14 years ago, first for Atlanta, and then Minneapolis. I've never regretted a minute of it. Newt Gingrich lives there, and that's bad enough.


I think we need to have a liberal policy admitting many people from other countries to the USA. Immigration is good. However, if visitors are uninvited, or break ANY of our laws, they need to leave,and if they refuse, they need to be sent home.


Who is it that says people arrested by ICE for immigration violations cannot file "habeus Corpus " petitions in Federal District Court? I have seen these on the court calendar,


Why is there no discussion of an immigrant's actual status (e.g. legal or illegal)? It would be interesting to hear suggestions as to how police forces can be expected to enforce any laws in communities that are predominantly minority without labeling their actions as profiling. Further, the descriptions within the ACLU postings I've read here today appear flowery and opinionated. For example the statement, "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."...uses the word "disappear". I'm sure they do not disappear; there's a paper trail of the stop, as well as subsequent arrest/citation. If the police are affecting a 69% arrest rate on illegal immigrants and effecting deportation, isn't that a successul program?

no more

Thank God for the ICE and their efforts to rid this country of those that would deliberately encroach upon the sovereignty of this great nation

no more

So freedom of speech is not something that the ACLU wants to allow on their blogs I see


For Viven! The preamble to the constitution starts off with "We the people of the United States." It doesnt mention Mexicans, or people from any other country, because those people arent citizens of this country, until they become one. Unfortunately most of the ones here, dont care about our laws, and were fugitives, as soon as they crossed our borders. They also dont seem to care if they steal money from us, or break our other laws.

These people deserve no rights other then to be kicked out of the country.

What people like you need, is to be ripped off by some illegal alien trash like my neighbor who had his idenity stolen by some Mexican who got several moving violations in a state he was never in; but that state is now comming after him for crimes that the illegal commited.

Not only does granny need to be patted down, and sent home, we should kick the people like you who supports these lying, thiveing cheats out with them.

If you dont get that, Obamas aunt was deported from the U.S. over four years ago. She didnt leave, but has been living in governmet assisted housing since she was deported, and you pay for it. In that case Granny is a cheat that steals from all of us. It's two bad we cant get the government to just make idiots like you pay for it. Why? Because if we did; I'm betting your bleeding heart attidude would fade away really quick!


For Smokem:

You are saying all illegal immigrants
are thieves and trash. Obviously, you have never experienced discrimination or brutality because of your race or affiliations. Most Mexican illegals are
here because they are desperate to improve the circumstances in which they live. I am sure some there are some
thieves in the group just as there are
in any population, but to call them trash is to say they deserve to be discarded, that they have no value.
That type of intolerance for human life
is dangerous.

Like most American citizens, I am frustrated that out government
has allowed the massive influx of illegals into our country. But for
police to single them out looking for
some minor infraction in which to justify an arrest and deportation is wrong. Once arrested they may be held for an indefinite period of time while
waiting for an overworked bureaucrat
to review their case. The deployment
of ICE units on a population of poor
under privileged people is not an effective way to deal with the illegal
immigration issue. In fact, it is like
trying to get rid of an ant hill by
hiring five people to stand around it and stomp one ant at a time as they
crawl out of the ground. That is just not an efficient way of getting rid of
the ant hill. The government needs to
address the immigration problem in a
broader since.

I do not like the idea of placing more
tactical police units in our communities. Most of the officers are
young with limited life experience, and
in their zeal to do a good job frequently become over aggressive
in meeting the arrest quotas by which
their performance in measured. That was why I made the comment about "patting down Granny". We have already lost some of our civil liberties through the Patriot Act. Therefore, I do not think we need another level of law enforcement
shoved down our throats.


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