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Georgians Challenge Federal Immigration Law | News

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Georgians Challenge Federal Immigration Law

ATLANTA -- A potential class-action lawsuit has been filed in federal court in Atlanta over a government program that allows local authorities to enforce federal immigration law.

Marietta lawyer Erik Meder with Ave Maria Legal Services filed the lawsuit last Friday on behalf of three immigrants in Georgia.

Experts say it could be the first lawsuit to directly challenge the legitimacy of the program known as 287(g), which was designed to catch dangerous criminals.

The lawsuit claims that U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement has improperly delegated its power to local authorities and names various county, state and federal officials.

"287(g) essentially abdicates that discretionary authority to state actors," claimed attorney Meder. "Congress entrusted the Constitution, entrusts it only to the federal government."

The lawsuit alleges that ICE has failed to train, supervise and otherwise oversee sheriff's deputies in Cobb County.

"It is time for the federal government to initiate an investigation into the abuses we're seeing every day in Cobb and Gwinnett County," Azadel Shahshahani with the Georgia American Civil Liberties Union said at a protest against 287(g) on Thursday. The Georgia ACLU and several Latino groups accuse Cobb and Gwinnett counties of racial profiling.

"The law's the law," Cobb County Sheriff Neil Warren said last spring, defending his department's role in deporting illegal immigrants.

Only four of Georgia's 159 counties -- Cobb, Gwinnett, Hall and Whitfield -- currently participate in the 287(g) program.