by Catharine Debelle
Meet D.A. King, a fervent anti-immigrant activist and the founder of the Dustin Inman Society (DIS) in Georgia, who has long been a staunch supporter of pieces of controversial anti-immigrant legislation such as 287g and Secure Communities. Now, meet Sheriff Neil Warren of Cobb County, Georgia, who has been an equally aggressive spokesperson for these programs.
Together, these two men have become a bit of an un-dynamic duo, rampaging the Georgia countryside, rooting out undocumented peoples, many hardworking farmers among them, and generally creating a bigoted ruckus along the way.
Programs like the aforementioned have been heavily scrutinized by civil rights organizations, as they are correctly understood to only encourage racial profiling. Recently, President Obama has begun reconsidering Secure Communities by attempting to reconceptualize and reaim the glare of the program’s enforcement focus solely on violent criminals—the program’s original purpose.
“I don’t think it’s right. These policies aren’t going to do anything but send an invitation out to more aliens to enter our country illegally,” said Sherriff Warren. “Whether they bring illegal drugs or simply are looking for drugs, I think it’s going to create a burden on the taxpayers of the United States.”
With Warren’s revealing comments – and inane logic – fresh in our minds, perhaps it’s worth pondering the recent statements of a senior administration official who argues that delaying decisions regarding low-priority cases would table them for a period, and therefore expedite the process of deporting individuals with serious criminal histories. Quoted in the Daily Herald, the official distilled this thinking by mentioning, “you do not need to put everyone you come across in the system.”
As for 287(g), Warren was the first sheriff in Georgia authorized by the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) to participate in ICE’s program, but then in 2010 Sheriff Warren found himself the subject of national scandal surrounding this very program.
Jessica Colotl, a student at Kennesaw State University, was arrested for driving without a license on March 29, 2010, and was quickly slated for deportation. The ACLU contacted the DHS on Jessica’s behalf, concerned that the 287(g) program was targeting a bright college student rather than a hardened criminal. In the end, Jessica received a one-year deferment from ICE to finish her studies.
Days after receiving this deferment, however, Cobb county police arrested her again—for lying about her address on jail booking records. Eventually, due to a barrage of criticism, Warren felt it appropriate for an independent agency to finish the investigation.
The relationship between D.A. King and Sheriff Warren warrants some alarm, as King submitted a request to Warren’s department, asking that the entire University System of Georgia and Board of Regents be investigated for possibly violating the law for granting undocumented students enrollment.
“I definitely didn’t ask D.A. King or any other citizens to make that request to me,” said Warren. “I felt obligated once it was brought to my attention to forward it to someone to look into it.”
King and Warren have always remained quite close, professing their undying professional affection for each other whenever given the chance. In 2007, King staged an event to honor Sheriff Warren with the first DIS “Sheriff of the Year” award. In a DIS press release, King describes Warren as “my own, Neil Warren, who is the only Georgia sheriff to have graduated deputies from the federal training.”
As community members and civil rights supporters, we must take action to inform our communities of the dangerous outcomes that are manifested when individuals like D.A. King and Sheriff Warren conspire to target undocumented immigrants. Students like Jessica Colotl and the families of Georgia’s undocumented workers – and the injustices they suffer – will continue to stand as stark reminders, as the glaring consequences of what transpires when anti-immigrant mouthpieces are left alone to squeal and moan.