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Immigration groups fear local law enforcement, ICE, racial profiling


Immigration violation training classes, for another Metro Atlanta law enforcement agency, have begun in the Gwinett County Sheriff's Department, despite fears from immigrant and civil rights groups about racial profiling.

The program, known as 287(g), is set up in cooperation with the US Department of Homeland Security, which oversees Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE). Added to the Immigration and Nationality Act in 1996, Section 287(g) allows local law enforcement agencies to check the immigration status of anyone arrested for a crime. The idea of the law is to keep serious criminals - who happen to be illegal immigrants - out of the US.

FILE - A detainee at Immigration and Customs En-
forcement's Stewart Detention Center in Lumpkin, Ga.,
April, 2009. (Kate Brumback/AP)

But the American Civil Liberties Union and the group Atlantans Building Leadership for Empowerment say that 287(g) encourages officers of the law to use spurious charges to target Hispanics, just so they can check their immigration status. "287(g) is known to lead to increases in racial profiling," said ABLE, in a petition to the Gwinett County Board of Commissioners last month. "A program of this nature creates distrust between immigrant communities and law enforcement," they warned, "as it prevents immigrants from reporting crimes."

On August 1, 2009, ABLE and the ACLU held a community forum about the program in the Gwinett County town of Lilburn, Georgia. There they heard testimonials from Latinos who have been the target of what they claim to be racial profiling by law enforcement, including one 73-year-old man, born and raised in the US, who, after telling an officer he was on his way home, was reportedly told, "Your home is in Mexico."

Almost a month ago, DHS announced that it had  "standardized the Memorandum of Agreement (MOA) used to enter into '287(g)' partnerships" with local law enforcement agencies. In the statement, the DHS explained how the new MOA recognizes the potential for abuse and racial profiling. "To address concerns that individuals may be arrested for minor offenses as a guise to initiate removal proceedings," they said, "the new agreement explains that participating local law enforcement agencies are required to pursue all criminal charges that originally caused the offender to be taken into custody."

Despite that claim by DHS, the ACLU says, the exact wording of the actual agreement is different. "The new MOA only 'expect[s],' rather than 'requires,' the pursuit of charges," the ACLU noted after examining the agreement. "The old [Bush Administration] MOA contained the same 'expectation.' "

The old MOA is currently in effect in three other Georgia counties: Hall and Cobb - both part of the metro area - and Whitfield - where several Latino immigrants work in the carpet industry.

Gwinett is the first Georgia county to sign on to the revised agreement with DHS and ICE. The ten other municipalities in the country that DHS says have recently signed on to the 287(g) program are:

  • Monmouth County, New Jersey, Sheriff’s Office;
  • Rhode Island Department of Corrections;
  • Delaware Department of Corrections – Sussex Correctional Institution;
  • Houston Police Department;
  • City of Mesquite, Nevada, Police Department;
  • Morristown, New Jersey, Police Department;
  • City of Mesa, Arizona, Police Department;
  • Florence, Arizona, Police Department;
  • Guilford County, North Carolina, Sheriff's Office; and
  • Charleston County, South Carolina, Sheriff's Office.
For more info: Gwinett County Sheriff Butch Conway put together a PowerPoint presentation to explain why he wanted his department to sign on to the new 287(g) agreement.
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  • Americana 5 years ago

    If the immigration lovers are afraid of this policy, it must be because it works. Advocates want NO enforcement of the law at all. I applaud any and all police departments that are doing their duty in taking illegals off the streets. They are on the front lines in their communities and have best access to find those who break multiples laws to enter and remain in this country. Partnering with ICE is a brilliant move !! Although Oshama and Nappy has watered down the 287g program so only serious crimes are now considered for deportation. So I guess low level scum don't have too much to worry about. And to the illegal advocates, please drop the 'racial profiling' whine already. Can police help it if 80% of illegals are Mexican? Don't do the crime if your afraid of being caught. Or better yet, go back to your own country and apply in the proper manner and then none of this would be an issue. Be sure to let your House reps & Senators know - NO AMNESTY !!!

  • immigrationlover 5 years ago

    it makes me sick to read comments about people as ignorant as you...

  • Delaware Bob 5 years ago

    I am so sick and tired of hearing "RACIAL PROFILING". How do you connect race with illegal? We are after ALL illegal aliens, not just latino illegal aliens. That indeed would be "racial profiling". We have illegal aliens from almost every country on this planet. There is suppose to be 500,000 from Ireland. 2-300,000 from Asia. I know of one from Kenya, but there probably are more.

    Maybe if ALL the illegal aliens would get out of this country, a country to which the DO NOT belong, all the problems with this illegal immigration would end. Would you agree with that?

    Every illegal alien in this Country is a criminal. Everyone of them.


  • anotherimmigrationlover 5 years ago

    Delaware Bob, what are you so afraid of? shhhhhh, it's gonna be okay, your life won't change one bit once the long overdue amnesty is finally passed. shhhhh.

  • L.a 5 years ago

    why does people treat other peolpe like if they werenot people

  • L.a 5 years ago

    you must not want people with a different race to mix. there is nothing wrong with that