ACLU Cobb Report: Stop 287(g)

Published in October 2009.

Introduction and Executive Summary

The Cobb County Sheriff’s Office is one of seventy-seven state and local law enforcement agencies across the country and one of five agencies in Georgia that are involved in a program known as 287(g), made possible through section 287(g) of the Immigration and Nationality Act (INA). The 287(g) program allows local law enforcement representatives to act as immigration officers and participate in enforcement of federal civil immigration laws, per a Memorandum of Agreement (MOA) with the Department of Homeland Security Immigration and Customs and Enforcement (ICE).

Though initially intended as a measure to combat violent crime and other felonies such as gang activity and drug trafficking, 287(g) agreements have come to undermine police work as immigrant communities, fearful of  being deported and leery of local, de facto immigration officers, hesitate to report crime.iv The Major Cities Chiefs Association and the Police Foundation have both found that participating in 287(g) programs has harmed community policing efforts. In addition, law enforcement agencies that reallocate limited resources towards non-violent crimes, 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.

The 287(g) program has also encouraged and served as a justification for racial profiling and human rights violations by some local enforcement officers acting as immigration agents. Across the country, there have been several well-documented instances of 287(g)-related racial profiling. Some actions of local law enforcement have even prompted federal investigations and lawsuits. In Maricopa County, Arizona, Sheriff Joe Arpaio was given “the largest and most comprehensive  287(g) contract in the nation.”vii With these added powers, he rounded up large numbers of immigrants, often without probable cause, launching a “criminal illegal alien” crackdown which caused widespread terror in Maricopa County.viii In August 2009, the ACLU of Arizona filed a lawsuit against Arpaio’s office, for picking up a son driving his father to work and detaining them for hours without probable cause. Despite showing the arresting officers proof of their legal presence in the U.S., the father, a legal permanent resident, and the son, a U.S. citizen, were taken to a detention center after being picked up for what they thought was a routine traffic stop. There they were denied  food and water and access to a restroom for several hours.xi In addition, the Justice Department started an investigation against Sheriff Joe Arpaio in March 2009 for possible civil rights violations, including racial profiling and unlawful search and seizure, while exercising immigration enforcement under 287(g).

Download the full Cobb report in PDF format.

Rights Groups Submit Detailed Comments in Response to ICE “Secure Communities” Stakeholder Questionnaire

CONTACT: [email protected]

The Center for Constitutional Rights (CCR), in conjunction with the National Immigration Project of the National Lawyers Guild, responded this week to a request for comments from Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE). The comments respond to Federal Register request for public comment to ICE’s draft questionnaire called Form 70-008 aimed at stakeholders of the new “Secure Communities” initiative. The new initiative is designed to increase information sharing between local departments of corrections, law enforcement, the Federal Bureau of Investigations (FBI) and immigration authorities. Through increased information sharing, ICE believes that Secure Communities will be able to target “the most dangerous criminal aliens” for deportation. Blurring the lines between local enforcement and the federal immigration authorities can lead to racial profiling, increased incarceration and deportation of non-citizens with US Citizen family members and community ties.

CCR and the National Immigration Project object to the release of the current draft of the survey tool because it fails to adequately assess attitudes towards Secure Communities. The survey neglects to address important concerns and lessons learned from similar immigration initiatives like 287(g) agreements. Specifically, the survey ignores critical questions of cost, infrastructure support, monitoring, training and oversight that undeniably affect attitudes and opinions about Secure Communities. The eight recommendations submitted to ICE suggest that the survey incorporate precise questions regarding the tracking of law enforcement abuse and compliance with national and local racial profiling policies. We suggest that ICE assess the available capacity of stakeholders and that ICE clarify its goals and policies to ensure a common understanding of the purpose and procedure of Secure Communities.

Download more information about the National Immigration Project and CCR’s submitted comments below.

For additional information, read the Federal Register announcement.