October 24, 2012
Atlanta, GA - October 24, 2012
Today the Georgia Latino Alliance for Human Rights (GLAHR) and the ACLU of Georgia filed a lawsuit against the Department of Homeland Security and Immigration and Customs Enforcement. The suit seeks public records documenting the effects of Georgia’s increasing involvement in immigration enforcement, including information that will shed light on increasing reports of racial profiling and police abuse.
The two organizations requested the records over six months ago. With representation by the ACLU of Georgia, the National Day Laborer Organizing Network, and the NYU Immigrant Rights Clinic, the lawsuit alleges that DHS and ICE have failed to comply with the Freedom of Information Act, and demands the release of the requested records.
Azadeh Shahshahani, counsel for the ACLU of Georgia commented, “Transparency is integral to a democratic society. Yet by withholding the records, ICE is preventing the shining of much needed light on the extent of the collaboration between this agency and local police in Georgia.”
The impact of Georgia’s experiment with immigration enforcement—through 287(g) agreements, the Secure Communities program, and HB 87—is largely unstudied. The records sought in the lawsuit will reveal who is being targeted for immigration enforcement, and how increased immigration enforcement by police is impacting public safety and civil rights.
Adelina Nicholls, Executive Director of GLAHR explained, "Immigrant communities have felt the aggression inside their own local neighborhoods since the implementation of 287(g) and the Secure Communities Program. HB87 increased the anti-immigrant climate and now overwhelming amounts of family members in our communities have been detained under minor traffic violations, as many of them are being arrested without a 'probable cause.'
Throughout the state of Georgia we are organizing to keep racial profiling out of our communities and we want to be informed about the programs that we see contributing to it. We shouldn't have to sue for transparency but if the Department of Homeland Security and ICE refuse to honor the law, we will do what it takes to shine a light on what is happening in Georgia."
The complaint can be viewed here: http://www.acluga.org/files/9413/5108/5027/GLAHR_v_ICE_Complaint.pdf
September 13, 2012
ATLANTA -- The ACLU Foundation of Georgia filed a lawsuit today in Fulton County Superior Court against the State of Georgia on behalf of the International Keystone Knights of the Ku Klux Klan (IKKK), which had sought to be a part of the Adopt-a-Highway Program. The IKKK sought to maintain a stretch of Highway 515 in Union County as part of the Keep Our Mountains Beautiful program.
“The fundamental right to free speech is not limited to only those we agree with or groups that are inoffensive. The government cannot pick or choose who is protected by the Constitution,” said Debbie Seagraves, executive director of the ACLU Foundation of Georgia. “There will always be speech and groups conveying hateful messages that are distasteful to some. That is why the First Amendment protects free speech for all.”
The Georgia Department of Transportation rejected the IKKK’s application to participate in the Adopt-a-Highway Program because of the group’s history and the potential impact to motorists driving on that stretch of highway. This decision violates the free speech and due process rights guaranteed by the Georgia Constitution.
“Many people may find the views expressed by groups like the IKKK abhorrent. But there is nothing American about taking away the right to express those views or undertake a project, such as notification of sponsorship of a highway cleanup, which is otherwise open to all,” said Chara Fisher Jackson, legal director of the ACLU Foundation of Georgia. “Freedom of speech is at the very core of American values.”
Attorneys on the case also include Alan and Cory Begner of Begner & Begner, P.C.
To view the Complaint click here
July 24, 2012
The ACLU Foundation of Georgia was joined by more than a dozen organizations today in issuing a letter to Immigration Enforcement Review Board (the Board) Chairman Benjamin J. Vinson laying out concerns with how the Board might apply the powers granted to it in the case ofMichael Dale Smith v. City of Vidalia. The letter emphasized that despite Mr. Smith’s allegations concerning Lark Industries and other businesses within the city of Vidalia, any investigation the Vidalia review panel conducts must be restricted to onlypublicentities. The letter questioned why a review panel was created to investigate Mr. Smith’s accusations against Vidalia in the first place when Board members have described his complaint as “vague” and lacking in rather important specific details such as names, dates, and locations. The letter asked for clarification as to how Mr. Smith’s complaint actually met theprima faciestandard that the Board’s rules require before a complaint may be considered by the Board. Finally, the letter requested explanation as to what authority the review panel possesses that allows it to investigate alleged violations of Georgia immigration laws that are said to have occurred before the creation of the Board, and what authority the Board possesses to potentially issue sanctions for violations that are found to have occurred prior to the Board’s creation.
“We are deeply concerned that following the Smith decision, the Board has authorized its complaint process to amount to what is essentially a fishing expedition,” said Azadeh Shahshahani, National Security/Immigrants’ Rights Project Director with the ACLU Foundation of Georgia.
The letter can be viewed here: http://www.acluga.org/files/2013/4313/9383/LettertoIERB7-24-2012.pdf