The 2017 presidential election results had divided sentiment in America. With part of the nations biting its nails, dreading President Trump’s actions to counteract progressive policy, the rest of America eagerly awaited more nationalistic measures. In Georgia, a state that’s voted Republican for the past six presidential elections, some counties take the latter approach as they embrace and cooperate with the president’s initiative to cut down on the number of undocumented aliens living on United States soil. Other counties, however, refuse his initiative altogether.
Shortly after his inauguration into United States office in January of 2017, President Donald Trump’s administration upped the ante on the United States Immigration and Nationality Act. This act includes section 287(g) which permits selected local law enforcement agencies to act on behalf of immigration law enforcement to detain undocumented aliens. The state of Georgia has had mixed responses to the President’s initiative, but four counties have agreed to take up the task of rounding up undocumented people in cooperation with Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE). Compared to other states, Georgia is average concerning the number of immigrants who live there, but that doesn’t mean thousands of lives won’t be affected by this bourgeoning policy.
Undocumented immigrants must choose between driving illegally and not driving at all, and because they cannot obtain a legal driver’s license, nor are they allowed to purchase liability insurance, many fear this new initiative could make it even riskier to drive for those who are undocumented. Where local agencies participate in 287(g), law enforcement has the authority to detain any person on suspicion of entering the United States illegally, and the road is the perfect place to round them up.
This is a welcome reality and a beacon of hope for a stronger economy and reduced crime rates to those who support President Trump’s initiative, but a frightening one to those who live on Georgia soil and are undocumented. For undocumented Hall County (one of the counties participating in 287(g)) resident and single mother, Alicia Ortiz-Mojica, fear became real life when she was stopped by police for an alleged tail-light failure and immediately detained for immigration. Her bail was set at $12,000, and her daughters are residing with family until her situation is rectified.
For many police departments, there are other concerns. While four counties have signed up to support ICE in 287(g), most police departments steer clear of the act in an effort to promote the community’s trust in police. Dunwoody Police Chief Billy Grogan says, “I wouldn’t expect to see many (police departments) sign up, at least in Georgia. Our role is building positive relationships with the community. Immigrants, whether legal or illegal, are victimized by crime at a higher rate. We want them to cooperate with us.”
Mixed feelings abound in the state of Georgia concerning 287(g), but only time will reveal overall results or consequences.
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