• Court dismisses challenge to GA. 287g immigration enforcement programs

    A federal appeals court in Atlanta has rejected legal efforts aimed at shutting down programs that give Cobb County and state police immigration enforcement powers.

    In its ruling issued this month, the 11th Circuit Court of Appeals upheld a lower court's decision to dismiss a lawsuit against two of Georgia's 287(g) programs, named after the section of federal immigration law that authorizes them. The appeals court said it found no legal error in the district court's opinion and agrees with its conclusions.

    July 19, 2012
    Jeremy Redmon
    The Atlanta Journal-Constitution

    Two Mexican citizens and one Salvadoran citizen sued Cobb, state and U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement officials last year, arguing their 287(g) programs are unconstitutional and should be scrapped. Among other things, they alleged they were not notified of their Miranda rights when they were arrested and detained and that they were not granted access to attorneys while they were being questioned.

    In October, a federal district court judge dismissed their complaint, saying the plaintiffs lacked standing because they could not "allege an imminent threat of future harm." The plaintiffs appealed. One of their attorneys had no immediate comment Thursday.

    Cobb Sheriff Neil Warren and ICE officials welcomed the news of the appeals court's decision.

    "While the immigration laws may be unpopular with some advocacy groups," Warren said in a prepared statement, "the partnership we have with ICE has been very successful in identifying and deporting those individuals who choose not only to enter the county illegally but also violate our laws."

    The 287(g) program involves written agreements granting local and state law enforcement officers the power to enforce federal immigration laws. For example, sheriff's deputies may be given the power to question people about whether they are in the country legally and to serve arrest warrants, prepare charging documents and detain and transport criminals for immigration violations.

    More than 14,800 people have been "removed" -- deported or allowed to voluntarily leave the country -- through Georgia's five 287(g) programs since fiscal year 2006, federal records show. Gwinnett, Hall and Whitfield authorities also participate in the program.
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