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:
From: The Atlanta Journal-Constitution
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.”
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.
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).
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."
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.
Forty-four years ago, your chances of hearing a foreign accent in Georgia were slim. At the time, less than 1 percent of the state's population had been born abroad. But in the decades since, Georgia, once shackled by segregation, has become one of the more diverse states in the union. In 2012, according to the Pew Research Center, nearly 10 percent of the state's population was born in another country.
Much of that growth has been centered in metro Atlanta. Last year, the Atlanta Regional Commission estimated that approximately 14 percent of the 20-county region's population was foreign-born. Among the 20 other most populous metros across the country, the metro Atlanta region ranked 14th. But when researchers measure its change in growth over the 2000s, the region lays claim to the second-fastest growing foreign-born population, lagging only Baltimore. In some counties, such as Clayton, foreign-born men, women, and children fueled the majority of the population growth during the booming 2000s.
More than two dozen detainees at a notorious immigration detention center in Georgia staged a hunger strike and protest last week over inedible food, the Atlanta Journal-Constitution (AJC) reported. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) called the protest at Stewart Detention Center a “riot” that required that detainees be “segregated for disciplinary purposes,” according to the AJC.
The ACLU and Georgia Detention Watch filed a complaint raising alarm about a hunger strike that detainees began on or around June 12, during which hundreds of detainees threw their food away. Detainees have complained that their food is often filled with maggots, or that the same water used to boil eggs is reused to brew coffee. Detainees who work in food preparation have also complained of a roach infestation in the facility’s kitchen. Detainees were frequently served rotten food.
The ACLU Foundation of Georgia and Georgia Detention Watch express grave concern about news of a hunger strike at the Stewart Detention Center in Lumpkin, Georgia last week. Discontent has long been brewing over the poor quality of the food, desperately inadequate medical care, and unlivable conditions. A group of detained immigrants decided to organize together in protest. According to multiple reports, instead of addressing the complaints, guards placed hunger strikers and the entire unit on lock-down. The ACLU of Georgia and Georgia Detention Watch call for transparency from Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) and reiterate their previous calls for closure of this corporate-run facility.
McRae Correctional and D. Ray James Correctional facilities in McRae and Folkston, Georgia are two of the 13 little-known CAR (Criminal Alien Requirement) prisons for immigrants in the United States. For the new report Warehoused and Forgotten: Immigrants Trapped in Our Shadow Private Prison Industry, the ACLU and the ACLU of Texas have investigated CAR prisons in Texas run by Corrections Corporation of America and the GEO Group, the same private prison companies that operate McRae and D. Ray James. The report reveals inhumane conditions and egregious mistreatment of immigrants in prisons that enrich the for-profit prison industry at tremendous costs to taxpayers.
“The report findings are consistent with what we have documented in Georgia. CCA at McRae and the GEO Group at D. Ray James have a record of violations of constitutional and Bureau of Prisons standards governing the medical treatment of prisoners,” said Azadeh Shahshahani, National Security/Immigrants’ Rights Project Director of the ACLU Foundation of Georgia.
In August 2011, the ACLU of Georgia submitted comments to the Bureau of Prisons asking that the agency not renew its contract for operation of McRae. The ACLU of Georgia has also submitted a Freedom of Information Request to the Bureau of Prisons regarding treatment of prisoners at D. Ray James. The comments and the FOIA request are available upon request.
The culmination of a four-year investigation, the ACLU report on facilities in Texas shows how the federal Bureau of Prisons incentivizes private prison companies to keep CAR prisons overcrowded and understaffed. The companies provide scant medical care that is often administered incorrectly, if delivered at all.
As Carl Takei, Staff Attorney at the ACLU’s National Prison Project, explained, “The shameful conditions inside CAR prisons come from the government’s decision to allow the suffering inside these for-profit prisons. For instance, 10% of the bed space in CAR prisons is reserved for extreme isolation—nearly double the rate in normal federal prisons. I spoke to prisoners who spent weeks in isolation cells after being sent there upon intake—simply arriving at prison was the reason why they were locked in a cell and fed through a slot for 23 hours a day.”
CAR prisons hold non-citizens who have been convicted of crimes in the U.S., mostly for immigration offenses (such as unlawfully reentering the country).
Read the report: www.aclu.org/CARabuse.