Georgia Law’s Community HeLP Clinic and Project South release report on harms from spike in state-federal jailhouse immigration enforcement

Negative effects of three Southern states’ collaboration with federal immigration officials are detailed in a report just published by the Community Health Law Partnership here at the University of Georgia School of Law and Project South, a 35-year-old, Atlanta-based nongovernmental organization.

Entitled Escalating Jailhouse Immigration Enforcement, the 52-page report focuses on “ICE holds” – the nonbinding request, placed by U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement, that local jails detain certain detainees. Based on records obtained through the U.S. Freedom of Information Act, the report reveals that between fiscal years 2016 and 2018:

  • The number of ICE holds nearly quadrupled in Georgia, nearly tripled in South Carolina, and doubled in North Carolina.
  • On average, persons subject to ICE holds were held more than two weeks in Georgia, about three weeks in South Carolina, and more than a month in North Carolina.
  • In at least half of these more than 18,000 detainer cases, the person named was taken into ICE custody.
  • At least 189 persons, including at least 29 U.S. citizens, were erroneously detained.

Co-authors of the report were our Clinic’s Director, Georgia Law Professor Jason A. Cade, (pictured above), along with Priya Sreenivasan and Azadeh Shahshahani of Project South. Cade said:

“The findings in Escalating Jailhouse Immigration Enforcement should encourage state and local governments to take their own steps to disentangle local policing from immigration policy. Enacting laws and practices that decrease the fiscal and human costs of lengthy incarcerations that rip families apart – usually just following minor traffic violations – will also go a long towards reducing immigrant communities’ fear of interaction with law enforcement in these southern states.”

Numerous Georgia Law students enrolled in the Clinic made important contributions to various stages of this project, including initial data collection, legal research, and data analytics: Onur Yildirin, Sarah Mirza and Michael Aune in Spring 2018; Caitlin Felt, Carter Thomas and Roger Grantham in Spring 2019; and Andrea Aldana, Stroud Baker, Lisa Garcia, and Farishtay Yamin in Spring 2020.

The full report is available here.

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