Dreamers Brave 287(g) Sheriff in Atlanta
The four students currently walking the 1500-mile Trail of Dreams from Florida to D.C. are in Atlanta this week. The students and their supporters made a stop in Gwinnett County, a suburb of Atlanta and location of a 287(g) program run by Sheriff Butch Conway whereby local police enforce federal immigration laws under ICE oversight. These 287(g) programs are typically enacted by grandstanding sheriffs who want an excuse to terrorize the local Latin@ community to win votes among local nativist whites. Once 287(g) is in place in a given jurisdiction, local law enforcement has carte blanche to engage in racial profiling, knowing that any arrest for any reason, whether or not criminal charges are made or are later thrown out, will likely lead to deportation. It's simple: 287(g) = racial profiling. The fact that President Obama still supports this program says worlds about his immigration policy priorities and the value his administration places on the pro-migrant vote.
The Dreamers' goal was to meet Sheriff Conway to challenge his implementation of 287(g) in Gwinnett County. Roberto Lovato of presente.org sent word of how the meeting went yesterday:
[T]he students walked into the Gwinnett County courthouse and demanded to speak to Sheriff today. and they did while wearing shirts emblazoned with the word "UNDOCUMENTED." Rather than face them, Sheriff Conway, the Joe Arpaio of the South, opted to have one of his subordinates deal with the walkers. In sum, the students faced down Sheriff Conway, who, under false or flimsy pretences, has jailed hundreds (almost 500) of undocumented immigrants in Gwinnett county in the past 3 months alone. (for more info on the action, see presente.org website) Conway backed away from doing what he does to immigrants in Gwinnett County on a daily basis: arrest and help deport them! thanks for listening and monitoring and following this important story. more to come soon as the walkers still have another 900 miles and 2 months to go til they reach DC.
Felipe, Gaby, Carlos, and Juan also garnered some local media attention, bringing their message to Atlantans who may never have considered that the undocumented immigrants their politicians rail against might also be their children's classmates and friends. English-language broadcasts can be seen here and here.
Visit the Trail of Dreams website if you'd like to donate to pay for food, water, and supplies so the Dreamers can reach D.C.