Senate Bill 452 is unconstitutional. Senate Bill 452 requires law enforcement officers to comply with ICE detainers that lack judicial warrants -- in other words, detain persons without probable cause. Detaining an individual without probable cause is in direct violation of the Fourth Amendment to the Constitution. In addition, if SB 452 becomes law, sheriffs and police departments are likely to be sued, costing cities and counties hundreds of thousands of dollars in litigation defending an unconstitutional law. This bill would require local law enforcement to fail to uphold the law of the land and to engage in unconstitutional acts. Any amendment by the state to “immunize” local or state law enforcement against federal civil rights lawsuits will be ineffective. Senate Bill 452 will put Georgians in danger. A University of Chicago study found that 62% of Latinos believe that police stop them for no good cause (based on racial profiling), including 58% of U.S.-born Latino citizens. This same study found that 44% of Latinos will not report being a victim of a crime to the police because they are afraid that the police will use this as an opportunity to question them about their immigration status or the status of people they know. When local law enforcement is engaging in federal immigration enforcement, this creates fear within immigrant communities, preventing immigrant victims and witnesses of crime from coming forward. When the community is more afraid of police than of violence, community trust, the basis on which local law enforcement can function, is broken.
Senate Bill 452 will create an ineffective bureaucracy and will clog our courts. The proposed law requires judges sentencing someone in any felony, misdemeanor, or ordinance violation case to determine that person’s immigration status. This bill treats immigration status determinations as if they were easily done, rather than the complicated inquiries that will unnecessarily burden judges and parole board members. In addition, the entities required to comply with that bureaucracy – the Department of Corrections, the Board of Pardons and Paroles, and the Department of Community Supervision – already face funding stresses. But Senate Bill 452 provides no funding for additional staff or for training to implement this bill’s justice system mandates.
Senate Bill 452 will cost taxpayers millions, with absolutely no justification. By forcing local law enforcement to engage in the practice of fulfilling federal immigration priorities, local law enforcement is rerouted from serving the community. For example, Miami-Dade County, Florida, implemented local law enforcement entanglement with ICE in January 2017. They decided to do at a county level what Senate Bill 452 seeks to do at a state level. The county, in just one year, charged its taxpayers $13.6 million dollars to comply with ICE requests. With 159 counties in Georgia, that cost would likely impair the ability of law enforcement agencies around the State to do the very jobs for which they were intended. Georgia is a state that has explicitly stated that it believes in fiscal responsibility. Senate Bill 452 is fiscally irresponsible and forces our residents to pay for federal priorities.
Senate Bill 452 will hurt businesses and depress our economy. In addition to operational costs, entangling local law enforcement with ICE would have a catastrophic effect on the Georgia economy. Forbes reported that Georgia’s HB 87 (2011), which mandated e-verify for certain businesses and made it more difficult for undocumented immigrants to work, cost Georgia's largest industry, farming, $140 million in labor shortages with negative spillover effects into restaurant and hotel businesses. In addition, as the state continues to grow and attract new business, the extreme policies proposed in this bill would deter investment by domestic and international corporations, as they would view Georgia as being unfriendly and hateful towards immigrants. It is obvious given the effects of HB 87, that Senate Bill 452 will further damage Georgia’s reputation as an open and inclusive place to do business.
Senate Bill 452 will prevent victims of domestic and sexual violence from reporting their abuse. Abusers and perpetrators frequently exploit a victim’s immigration status as a tool of coercion and threaten to have victims deported and separated from their children if they reach out for help. This bill will further empower abusers, by entangling the criminal justice system with ICE, which discourages victims from interacting with the police, allowing perpetrators to continue to abuse and exploit victims. SB 452 will create a barrier for immigrant and undocumented survivors to learn and seek legal status safety reliefs, such as U-Visas for crime victims and T-Visas for trafficking victims, because they will fear that in coming forward to seek these safe solutions, they will put themselves at greater risk for detention and deportation.
Senate Bill 452 will tear apart our communities and families. As a state that has said it values families, we must openly acknowledge that the real purpose behind local law enforcement entanglement with ICE is to break up families by deporting individuals who are part of our Georgia communities. Often children who have mixed status families (one parent who has lawful status and one who may be undocumented) struggle with depression and suicidal thoughts as they face the risk of families being broken up every day. The forced entanglement of local law enforcement and ICE through Senate Bill 452 will result in an entire generation of children with increasingly negative mental and physical health outcomes, as their families are being detained and traumatized by fear of deportation.
We at the undersigned organizations, and our co-signees, implore you to consider the constitutional, fiscal, economic, community, and family consequences of legislation that would portray Georgia as an anti-immigrant and discriminatory state.
We respectfully ask that you stop Senate Bill 452 from moving forward this session or becoming state law.
Asian Americans Advancing Justice – AtlantaAmerican Civil Liberties Union of Georgia Coalition for Refugee Serving AgenciesCAIR - Georgia Feminist Women's Health CenterGeorgia Association of Latino Elected OfficialsGeorgia Coalition Against Domestic ViolenceLatin American AssociationPlanned Parenthood Southeast AdvocatesSouthern Poverty Law Center
And our cosigned businesses, organizations, and individuals:
**Note: the contents of this letter refer to the SB 452 that passed the Senate. In the occasion that the bill is amended in the House, the content of this letter may be edited slightly.