Cobb, Gwinnett to continue immigration enforcement programs

Cobb and Gwinnett county sheriff’s deputies will continue to help enforce federal immigration laws for three more years through a controversial program under agreements officials approved this week.

The 287(g) program —- named after the federal law that authorizes it —- gives law enforcement officials the power to question people about their legal status, serve arrest warrants, and detain and transport criminals for immigration violations.

This week, Cobb and Gwinnett commissioners approved paperwork to extend those programs until June of 2016. Federal immigration authorities have also offered to let Hall and Whitfield counties extend their 287(g) programs.

Whitfield Sheriff Scott Chitwood said an agreement would be signed. Hall’s Sheriff’s Office did not respond to requests for comment.

Critics have repeatedly called on the Obama administration to shut down all the 287(g) programs nationwide. They say they distract police from more important crime-fighting duties and promote racial profiling. Supporters of 287(g) say the programs help reduce the burden illegal immigrants place on public schools and other taxpayer-funded resources.

Since fiscal year 2006, more than 16,000 people have been deported or allowed to voluntarily leave the country in connection with Georgia’s 287(g) programs, federal records show.