“As a result of our current participation in the 287(g) (immigration enforcement) program, we anticipate the recent court decision will have minimal impact on our enforcement of the immigration statutes,” Warren said Wednesday.
Warren said he’s turned over about 10,000 inmates to ICE under the 287(g) program since 2007.
In 2011, the Georgia General Assembly passed House Bill 87, called the Illegal Immigration Reform and Enforcement Act. Two of the 23 sections in the law — sections seven and eight — were frozen by an injunction from U.S. District Court Thomas Thrash.
On Tuesday, Thrash lifted the injunction on Section 8 after the state successfully appealed in the U.S. 11th Circuit Court of Appeals.
State Rep. Rich Golick (R-Smyrna), who helped author HB 87, said the Georgia statute takes a reasonable, measured approach to checking someone’s immigration status.
“It was written carefully so as to stay within constitutional boundaries, and the recent court decisions confirm that,” Golick said.
Immigration activist D.A. King of the Dustin Inman Society said that while some jurisdictions will take advantage of the law and some will not, “the fact that state and local governments have the right to protect themselves from the crime of illegal immigration is clear.”
But Jerry Gonzalez, executive director of the Georgia Association of Latino Elected Officials, said no funding is allocated by the Georgia Legislature for training or enforcement.
“I don’t believe that that is a priority,” he said.
Gonzalez said because the immigration law is complex, law enforcement should not move forward without the proper training.
“We are encouraging community members to not respond at all for any immigration status questions from law enforcement, and we will be monitoring very closely how law enforcement officials implement this around the state,” Gonzalez said. “The Supreme Court has left open for potential litigation if there is racial profiling, and we’re going to be looking very closely, so that should be a warning sign to law enforcement officials across the state.”
But King said not every law passed in Georgia comes with increased funding.
“The mandated education and health care for illegal aliens leaps to mind,” King said.
While Cobb Police Sgt. Dana Pierce would only say the county police department is reviewing the ruling on House Bill 87, Marietta Police Chief Dan Flynn said Marietta officers will put their newfound ability into practice in a “very measured” way.
Flynn said he would wait for guidance from Attorney General Sam Olens, whom he expects will provide police officers with appropriate cautions to ensure they proceed in a judicious way. Beyond the Attorney General’s guidance, Flynn said he would work with the Georgia Association of Chiefs of Police and coordinate with the Georgia Sheriff’s Association.
“We, in law enforcement, appreciate our legislators giving us the tools we need to keep our communities safe, and we have no intention of being arbitrary or heavy-handed in their application,” Flynn said.
Flynn said he did not foresee fear among Marietta’s Latino community as a result of this law.
“Over the past six years, we have maintained a good dialogue with the Latino community through the Cobb Latino Initiative, immigration advocacy groups, and our highly successful Franklin Road Weed and Seed program,” Flynn said. “We even ran a poster campaign entitled ‘Help Us Help You’ to let immigrants in Marietta know that if they were the victim of or witness to a crime, we specifically would not even inquire about their immigration status. Moreover, we have not had any specific allegation of mistreatment of any immigrant by any Marietta officer. So while illegal immigrants may understandably have a general fear of the police, there is no reason to suspect they may fear the Marietta Police Department in particular.”
As to the issue of profiling, Flynn said Marietta police are strongly opposed to it, have policies prohibiting it and continually train officers in the proper mechanics of making stops and arrests.
“Using race, ethnicity, or gender as a reason is simply unacceptable. This is clearly laid out in our rules against profiling,” Flynn said.