Senator Proposes Banning Driver's Licenses For Immigrants Granted Deferred Action

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State Senator Josh McKoon talks with supporters at the Wild Hog Dinner in Atlanta.
Sen. McKoon's bill would make getting a driver’s license illegal for those who qualify for deferred action status.
Credit David Goldman / Associated Press


President Obama will unveil his executive action plan for immigration today. The president is expected to expand deferred action for childhood arrivals (DACA), a program that has allowed many who arrived illegally in this country as children to temporarily stay in the U.S. and apply for work visas.

One Georgia Republican lawmaker is already trying to combat the efforts.



A bill pre-filed by Republican state Sen. Josh McKoon (R-Columbus) would make getting a driver’s license illegal for those who qualify for deferred action status.

Sen. McKoon says he’s proposing the bill to counter the actions being taken by the president.

“This law is not targeting any group of people. It is targeting the overzealous action of President Obama. He is creating this problem. And frankly, Georgians are collateral damage in this fight.”

Sen. McKoon says that’s not the only reason.

“It creates frankly a security problem, it creates a road safety problem, and it creates a voter integrity problem. We’ve already seen in North Carolina, people on deferred action status attempting to register to vote and participating in elections, so for all of those reasons I brought forward Senate bill 6.”

But Azadeh Shahshahani with the ACLU Foundation of Georgia calls the bill disappointing.

“It’s really a defeating move to try to restrict the ability of people who have been granted permission to work to try to restrict their ability to drive. We’re talking about youth. We’re talking about victims of domestic violence who actually do need to be able to drive to get away from their abusers.”

And Shahshahani says it’s better from a public safety standpoint for those with deferred action to have driver’s licenses.

“It’s really to the benefit of the state to ensure that individuals are tested, they are trained, they are insured, and that they are basically given the ability to drive by the state of Georgia so they can get to work.”

Earlier this year, a similar measure was defeated by state lawmakers. A 2013 U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services report revealed 18,497 living in Georgia had been granted deferred action status.


State Senator Josh McKoon talks with supporters at the Wild Hog Dinner in Atlanta.
Sen. McKoon's bill would make getting a driver’s license illegal for those who qualify for deferred action status.
Credit David Goldman / Associated Press


President Obama will unveil his executive action plan for immigration today. The president is expected to expand deferred action for childhood arrivals (DACA), a program that has allowed many who arrived illegally in this country as children to temporarily stay in the U.S. and apply for work visas.

GA County Rejects Unconstitutional ICE Detentions, ICE Resorts to Fear to Defend Failed Deportation Quota Program

ICE statements contradict new evidence that Secure Communities deportation program has zero effect on crime rate

Wave of 200+ localities have ended ICE “immigrant holds” to restore trust between local law enforcement & minority communities


September 5, 2014, Atlanta, GA–On Thursday, U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) responded obstinately to news that Fulton County, GA will no longer submit to unconstitutional ICE detainers. ICE spokesperson Vincent Picard referenced public safety and a laundry list of possible offenses immigrants have been charged with to defend the controversial Secure Communities deportation quota program (S-Comm).

The resolution by County Commissioners, passed unanimously on Wednesday evening and pending action by the County Sheriff, is the latest in a wave of over 200 localities rejecting the warrantless ICE detention requests, a key element of the S-Comm program that uses local police to extend a massive deportation dragnet.

In reaction to the news of Fulton County’s resolution and ICE’s remarks, legal and civil rights advocates made the following remarks:

Adelina Nicholls, Georgia Latino Alliance for Human Rights (GLAHR):

“Despite new evidence to the contrary, ICE continues to repeat the same line to defend the failed S-Comm program, stoking fears of dangerous criminals in our midst. Fear is the last resort of a failed federal program that has only served to sow fear and criminalize our communities.

“Just yesterday, the NY Times announced a new study finding that S-Comm has had zero effect on the crime rate. Thus far, ICE has ignored Latinos, minorities and immigrants, will it also ignore the hard facts? The S-Comm quota program does not make us safer; it is an unconstitutional dragnet that puts our community in danger, and it needs to end.”

“Fulton County residents should be proud of their leadership’s common-sense stand for public safety and due process, which unfortunately stands in stark contrast to ICE’s policies today.”

Salvador G. Sarmiento, National Day Laborer Organizing Network (NDLON):

“ICE’s comments are bizzare to say the least. If ICE feels that respecting the U.S. Constitution puts its agents at risk, this is yet another reason the failed S-Comm quota program needs to be terminated completely.

“ICE’s comments exemplify all that is wrong with the S-Comm dragnet. ICE has always put forth its fear of a fictitious boogieman to minimize the very real constitutional and public safety concerns of the community, concerns which are actually backed up by hard facts.”

Azadeh Shahshahani, ACLU of Georgia:

“ICE’s remarks fall flat when they directly contradict mounting evidence that S-Comm has no effect on the crime rate, and actually alienates community members from local police. One Georgia-specific study published just last month revealed concerning patterns of racial discrimination, indiscriminate targeting of immigrants, and the chilling effect these have had on immigrant interaction with local police.

“S-Comm’s real relevance to public safety concerns is that it undermines the relationship between the local police and the immigrant population, a relationship that is fundamental for effective law enforcement, which benefits all residents in a community. In other words, S-Comm’s only impact on public safety is net negative.”


For more information:

Deportations Don’t Lower Crimes Rates, The Journal of Law and Economics (November 2014)

Prejudice, Policing, and Public Safety: The Impact of Immigration Hyper-Enforcement in Georgia (July 2014)

Insecure Communities: Latino Perceptions of Police Involvement in Immigration Enforcement (May 2013)

Fulton Commissioners Urge Sheriff to Stop Cooperating with ICE

From: The Atlanta Journal-Constitution

By Jeremy Redmon

Fulton County commissioners on Wednesday passed a resolution urging Sheriff Ted Jackson to stop cooperating with federal immigration authorities under a variety of conditions.

Fulton is the first Georgia county to pass such a resolution amid a nationwide debate over the issue, according to the American Civil Liberties Union Foundation of Georgia, which hailed the commissioners’ action. Scores of other jurisdictions have approved similar measures, including Cook County, Ill.; the District of Columbia; and New York City.

Approved by a vote of 6-0 with Commissioner Liz Hausmann abstaining, Fulton’s resolution urges Jackson to prevent U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement from using county facilities for “investigative interviews or other purposes.”

“County personnel shall not expend their time responding to ICE inquiries or communicating with ICE regarding individual incarceration status or release dates while on duty,” the resolution continues, “unless ICE agents have a criminal warrant, or unless county officials have a legitimate law enforcement purpose that is not related to the enforcement of immigration law.”

The resolution also focuses on requests — called detainers — ICE routinely issues to local jails and state prisons. The detainers allow jails and prisons to hold people for an additional 48 hours — excluding weekends and holidays — after they would otherwise be released. This gives ICE time to take custody of them and attempt to deport them.

Quoting the ACLU, the resolution says such detainers could “undermine the trust between local law enforcement and the immigrant community.” It also says Jackson should stop complying with the detainers until Fulton reaches a written agreement with the federal government for reimbursing the county for all its costs to comply with them.

The Fulton Sheriff’s Office estimated that less than 1 percent of the county’s 40,113 inmates in 2013 — or less than 401 — were the subject of ICE detainers. The jail notifies federal immigration officials when it is about to release such inmates, said a spokeswoman for Jackson, but does not hold them any longer once they are scheduled for release.

ICE had no immediate comment late Wednesday afternoon.

Fulton Commission Chairman John Eaves said he voted for Wednesday’s resolution after listening to the immigrant community’s concerns.

“I have several concerns about this policy of detainer requests,” Eaves said in a prepared statement. “Among them is the fundamental fairness of the requests, the damage they may inflict upon the relationship between our law enforcement officers and our immigrant community, as well as unreimbursed cost of the detainers being passed on to Fulton County taxpayers.”

An ACLU official praised the commissioners’ action Wednesday, calling it a significant development.

“We are happy that Fulton County has recognized that immigration holds are an unfunded mandate,” said Azadeh Shahshahani, a national security/immigrants’ rights project director for the ACLU. “We hope that other counties in Georgia will soon follow suit.”

The 100 Influential Georgia Muslims

ACLU is proud of Azadeh Shahshahani and the work that she has accomplished.

The 100 Influential Georgia Muslims is an initiative of the Islamic Speakers Bureau of Atlanta. She will be honored at The 100 Influential Georgia Muslims Gala on Saturday, September 20, 2014 @ 6:30pm.

For more information

Georgia teams up with ICE to target Latinos

Aljazerra America
By Azadeh Shahshahani

In June 2011 while traveling on Lawrenceville Highway in Gwinnett County, Georgia, Bonnie Horton and her husband were stopped at a roadblock and surrounded by uniformed officers and police vehicles. Bonnie remembers seeing at least five cars pulled over on the side of the road and young children and babies in at least two of those cars.

All cars proceeding on that road were stopped at the roadblock. Most cars stopped for about a minute. As Bonnie and her husband approached the roadblock, they had their windows rolled down. She witnessed a man being taken out of one of the cars by officers, possibly being arrested. Alongside the same car stood a woman with a baby. Another car next to theirs had drivers and passengers inside who appeared to be Latino. She heard an officer asking them to provide proof of citizenship. However, Bonnie and her husband, who are Caucasian, were only asked to show proof of insurance and residence in Gwinnett County. They showed their driver’s licenses as evidence of residency, and were allowed to proceed without incident.

ACLU and the Art of Community

by Philip Painchaud and Mitun Mitra
ACLU of Georgia Law Clerks

On Saturday, July 12th, Marlyn Tillman, Mitun Mitra, Philip Painchaud and Asia Foots attended a celebration of the University Avenue Public Art Project on behalf of the ACLU of Georgia. The event took place in southwest Atlanta, and celebrated the unveiling of three twenty-foot high-relief sculptures celebrating the past, present and future of the local neighborhoods. Those in attendance were happy to see the presence of the ACLU of Georgia.

Advocates Say Georgia Law Enforcement is Profiling, Increasing Immigrant Arrests

Lisa George

A group of advocates for immigrants to Georgia says there has been a dramatic rise in the number of arrests and detainments of immigrants in the last few years.

Alicia Cruz says she was pulled over in Conyers about four months ago.

(Cruz speaks in Spanish followed by voice of translator): “My kids were with me, and the police officers kneeled my children down and pointed them, gun-pointed them.”

Cruz speaks very little English and says the officer spoke no Spanish. She says the officer took her to jail for driving without a license. She is currently out on bond, but she is undocumented and fears she will be detained by U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE).

New Report Details Prejudice and Pretext in Georgia's Hyper Immigration Enforcement

Federal ICE Access Programs and GA HB87 Driving Unprecedented Targeting and Deportation in the State

Today advocacy organizations publish a new report based on data made available through FOIA litigation with the state and federal Immigration and Customs Enforcement that both outline the metastasizing growth of local police's involvement in immigration enforcement and the resulting patterns of prejudice and collateral deportation in local practice with little to no evidence of any relation to actual public safety efforts.

The data reveals that the federal agency's practice of requesting the extended incarceration of an individual because of the suspicion of the immigration status known as ICE detainers rose 17,169% from 2007 to 2013 with 96% of those targeted being of "dark or medium complexion."

Previously Unreleased Data Shows Prejudice Not Public Safety in Georgia's Hyper Enforcement of Immigration Law

FOIA Suit Results in Telling Picture of Local Law Enforcement's Involvement in Federal Policies

What: Press Conference Releasing New Study "Prejudice, Policing, and Public Safety"
Where:180 Spring Street SW
When: 11:00am, Thursday July 31st, 2014
Who: Georgia Latino Alliance for Human Rights, ACLU of Georgia, and Georgia #Not1More Campaign

On Thursday morning, advocates will release a new study analyzing data received as a result of a FOIA lawsuit with ICE that outlines for the first time the practice and impact of local immigration enforcement efforts that grew under federal programs and the state law passed in 2011.

Families victimized by unjust deportation policy will speak out as part of the Georgia #Not1More campaign seeking to move Dekalb and Fulton Counties to join more than 130 jurisdictions nationwide in rejecting the ICE hold requests to keep people in extended detention due to its negative impact on public safety and constitutional violations.

The report will be made available at the press conference.