November 19, 2007

Illegal aliens to Sheriff: Stop violating our rights

Posted by D.A. King at 10:02 am - Email the author   Print This Post Print This Post  

Below from today’s MDJ.
Two things: PLEASE write or call the newspaper and ask if they fully understand the difference between illegal aliens and immigrants. THEN…please call Cobb Sheriff Neil Warren to voice your support and gratitude for his couragae and dedication to duty.

Immigrants to Sheriff: Stop violating our rights

By By Kelly Brooks and Marcus E. Howard
Marietta Daily Journal Staff Writers

MARIETTA – Immigrant leaders said this week that Cobb Sheriff officials are violating the civil rights of the county’s Latino residents.

Leaders of the Mexican American Legal Defense and Educational Fund (MALDEF) wrote to sheriff’s officials insisting that the county create a committee to monitor potential rights violations caused by its immigration enforcement procedures. Local authorities agreed in February to form the committee when they signed a deal with the U.S. Department of Homeland Security, Latino leaders said.

Cobb Sheriff Neil Warren said that steps to form the committee had been taken and that a meeting will be scheduled in the near future. Warren contended the committee doesn’t have to meet until nine months after the certification of its first class, which occurred June 8.

“This is a work in progress, but the main goal is to do the right thing, and we are doing the right thing,” he said.

MALDEF Regional Counsel Elise Shore said her office has received more than 100 calls in recent months regarding arrests. She said Latinos have said that they’ve been arrested because of minor traffic violations such as driving without a tail-light or turn signal.

“It’s mean-spirited enforcement of the law,” Ms. Shore said. “The sheriff of Cobb County is more interested in getting moms and dads on their way to work than enforcing other laws.”

In the letter to the sheriff, Ms. Shore requested that her group have a seat on the committee. She said her organization wants to make sure that “what we would call a deportation pact is being enforced in a way that protects peoples’ civil rights.”

Warren said his office would turn any inmates, regardless of their race, over to the correct agency if they are wanted elsewhere.

The agreement with Homeland Security, she said, also requires that language interpreters be provided upon request.

In June, Cobb officials completed training with U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement, and the county became the first in Georgia where law-enforcement officials have the authority and the means to identify illegal immigrants.

In October, Jerry Gonzalez of the Georgia Association of Latino Elected Officials accused the Cobb Sheriff’s Office of questioning the immigration status of victims of crime and car accidents and detaining them.

Sheriff’s officials said booking procedures at Cobb Jail include determining whether the person has outstanding charges and whether that person is in the U.S. legally. Officials said they had assisted immigration authorities in identifying and detaining 255 inmates through the end of October.

As for interpreters, Warren said, several Sheriff’s Office personnel speak foreign languages. When those staff members are not available, the office uses the AT&T Language Line, which he said provided translation for almost any language or dialect.Ms. Shore said that she has not spoken with anyone from the sheriff’s office since she sent the Nov. 14 letter.

“We’re interested in working with them and hearing about what they have to say,” she said.,