ACLU: Ga. immigration program has led to profiling

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ATLANTA - A 2-year-old program that gives the Cobb County sheriff's office power to enforce federal immigration laws has led to racial profiling and other problems, a civil liberties group said in a report released Monday.

"Terror and isolation in Cobb: How Unchecked Police Power under 287(g) Has Torn Families Apart and Threatened Public Safety" also claims that immigrants have been unnecessarily detained under Cobb County's 287(g) program. The program, is named for the section of immigration law that governs it.

The report is based on interviews with 10 residents who have been affected by the program and five community advocates and attorneys based in Cobb County, said report editor Azadeh Shahshahani of the American Civil Liberties Union of Georgia.

"Cobb County residents who appear to be foreign-born have been subjected to rampant racial profiling and are routinely picked up by the police for minor or nonexistent violations," the report said. "Families have been torn apart as people are arrested on their way to conduct everyday business, leaving many wary of leaving their homes."

Cobb County Sheriff Neil Warren did not return a phone call seeking comment about the program and did not respond to questions sent by e-mail.

The report said the program causes immigrants to distrust law enforcement, making them less likely to report crimes and emboldening criminals.

"We had someone call us. He was arrested for false ID. He was walking down the street. A police officer came up to him and asked for his papers. They said they were fake and they arrested him. We do not live in a police state," civil rights lawyer Jamie Hernan said in an interview quoted in the report.

The report's release coincides with the departure this week of 18 deputies from another metro Atlanta county for about a month of U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement training in Charleston, S.C. The Gwinnett County Sheriff's Department in July became the fifth law enforcement agency in Georgia to be approved for participation in the program. In addition to Cobb and Gwinnett counties, Hall and Whitfield counties and the Georgia Department of Public Safety also participate.

Earlier this year, the Government Accountability Office - the investigative arm of Congress - said ICE had not clearly explained to local law enforcement agencies that serious criminal offenders, such as drug smugglers and murderers, should be the main targets.

The U.S. Homeland Security Department, which oversees ICE, said changes have been made to incorporate the GAO's suggestions in the program.

The ACLU report released Monday echoes complaints by many immigrant rights advocates nationwide that the changes don't go far enough to prevent racial profiling.

Cobb County resident and anti-illegal immigration activist D.A. King is the founder of the Dustin Inman Society, which seeks stricter laws against illegal immigration and is named for a Georgia teen killed in a traffic accident caused by an illegal immigrant.

King bristles at the notion raised by opponents of the program that people are deported for relatively minor offenses like having a busted tail light or driving without a license. They are deported, he said, because their illegal status is revealed when they are arrested for these or more serious offenses.

"287(g) was never intended to only go after a certain group of criminals," he said.

The law essentially allows local officers to perform the same functions as immigration officers. However, it also says local agents are beholden to Homeland Security Secretary Janet Napolitano, who has said the program should be used "to identify and remove dangerous criminal aliens."

Hernan, the civil rights lawyer, said in a phone interview that he doesn't disagree with the program's premise but thinks it's used incorrectly.

"I believe that the original intention of the 287(g) program was to identify serious criminals who were already in detention and allow the federal government to deport them," he said. "That's a sound policy. But if you look at the history of the program and how it's being used, it's clear that it is profoundly flawed."

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justus4
103
Points
justus4 10/13/09 - 05:25 am
0
0
The police state is a
Unpublished

The police state is a violation of the Constitution and so is racial profiling. These agencies are breaking the law under Homeland Security laws which must stop. We know what law enforcement will say, but this report proves their dishonesty. Napolitano has issued a stay on some of the Bush era violations, this is just another one that must be stopped.

tompayne
0
Points
tompayne 10/13/09 - 06:48 am
0
0
boo hoo hoo!

boo hoo hoo!

REDRIDER
134
Points
REDRIDER 10/13/09 - 08:39 am
0
0
If they are Illegal in this

If they are Illegal in this country then they are criminals. God forbid anything should happen to anyone but when it results on of the Illegals who drive with no Insurance or Licence and kill or mangle someone. They are sent back with nothing done to be prosecuted for there actions.

Grasshopper
7
Points
Grasshopper 10/13/09 - 01:05 pm
0
0
ACLU should be banded for

ACLU should be banded for treason. This group of idiotic lawyers also supports NAMBLA. What kind of people support Child molesters?

Doyougetitnow
4
Points
Doyougetitnow 10/13/09 - 06:31 pm
0
0
What part of the Constitution

What part of the Constitution covers profiling?

mable8
2
Points
mable8 10/13/09 - 07:11 pm
0
0
The ACLU stinks like rotted

The ACLU stinks like rotted cabbage. These are illegal aliens and should be DEPORTED; there is a difference between racial and criminal profiling so the Cobb Co SO has done nothing wrong. Illegal immigrants have broken the law, therefore they are criminals. As for you j4--try sneaking into Mexico or a South American nation without documentation and see how you would be treated. You would probably rot in their prison before they let you out and the treatment is inhumane.

corgimom
33158
Points
corgimom 10/13/09 - 08:05 pm
0
0
My husband and I wanted to go

My husband and I wanted to go to Canada (we were in Erie, PA at the time.) When the Canadian border official found out I wasn't born in the US, but that I was an American citizen, I was questioned extensively and the officer didn't want to let me into the country (we were there for all of 4 hours). Nobody thought my Constitutional rights were being violated. Where was the ACLU then?

TechLover
15
Points
TechLover 10/14/09 - 05:24 am
0
0
corgi: Did you contact the

corgi: Did you contact the ACLU?

DonH
13
Points
DonH 10/18/09 - 08:51 am
0
0
If it looks like a rodent,

If it looks like a rodent, behaves like a rodent, it most likely IS a rodent. Likewise, if a person looks like an illegal, behaves like an illegal, the person most likely is an illegal. The ACLU does NOT make the laws! Our police have the right to stop and question ANY suspicious characters that fit a suspicious profile. Notice I did not write Arrest. If there is sufficient evidence to arrest, then a background check should be done. Prisoners who are in our country illegally should and must be deported as soon as their sentence is completed. The ACLU has no case, and they have no sympathy for their cause from me!

DonH
13
Points
DonH 10/18/09 - 08:52 am
0
0
Problems traveling? Get a

Problems traveling? Get a U.S. passport. I have one. They are not hard to get if you are a legal citizen. Problem solved.

corgimom
33158
Points
corgimom 10/18/09 - 10:11 am
0
0
I wouldn't contact the ACLU

I wouldn't contact the ACLU for anything. This was back when you didn't need to have a passport for Mexico or Canada. (But I won $1100 at their casino, I was happy)

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