Vivian Yee writes in the NY Times:
“CHAMBLEE, Ga. — Not many notice when the SUVs arrive.
Around 5 a.m., when the immigration agents pull into the parking lot of the Chamblee Heights apartments, 16 miles from downtown Atlanta, only one person is on the lookout.
Cristina Monteros catches sight of the cars with the telltale tinted windows from her small apartment near the front, where she runs a day care, and calls her downstairs neighbor: ICE is here.
The neighbor dials another, who passes it on. It takes less than 15 minutes for everyone in the complex to hear about “la migra,” whereupon they shut their doors and hold their breath. Some show up late to work, and others skip it altogether. The school bus might leave some children behind.
“It’s just us helping each other out,” said Ms. Monteros, 35. “There’s fear every day.”
Few places in the United States have simultaneously beckoned undocumented immigrants and penalized them for coming like metropolitan Atlanta, a boomtown of construction and service jobs where conservative politics and new national policies have turned every waking day into a gamble.
President Trump has declared anyone living in the country illegally a target for arrest and deportation, driving up the number of immigration arrests by more than 40 percent this year. While the Obama administration deported record numbers of undocumented immigrants, it directed federal agents to focus on arresting serious criminals and recent arrivals. The current administration has erased those guidelines, allowing Immigration and Customs Enforcement agents to arrest and deport anyone here illegally.
Freed of constraints, the regional ICE office in Atlanta made nearly 80 percent more arrests in the first half of this year than it did in the same period last year, the largest increase of any field office in the country.
It has had help. Local sheriffs and the police have been working with federal agents to identify and detain immigrants, a model of cooperation that the Trump administration is rapidly trying to expand throughout the country.
Every few hours, an unauthorized immigrant is booked into a county jail on charges as serious as assault and as minor as failing to signal a right turn. Then the jail alerts ICE — contrary to what happens in the so-called sanctuary cities repeatedly denounced by Mr. Trump, where local authorities refuse to turn immigrants over to the federal agency except in cases involving the gravest crimes.
Atlanta’s immigrants can do little but hide. At strip-mall taquerias and fruit stands, business has lagged. Word of the arrests flows through neighborhood phone trees, and Facebook has become an early-warning system for people desperate for clues about where ICE is operating. All around the metropolitan area, cabs and Uber cars are picking up immigrants who know driving their own cars may get them no further than detention.
. . . .
An analysis of one month of Gwinnett County jail records from this summer shows that 184 of the 2,726 people booked and charged at the jail were held for immigration authorities. Almost two-thirds of those detained for ICE had been charged with a traffic infraction such as failing to stay in their lane, speeding or driving without a license. Others were booked on charges including assault, child molestation and drug possession.
Advocates for immigrants have accused officers in 287(g) counties of targeting Hispanic drivers, a claim local police have denied.
“Local law enforcement is just chasing Latinos all over the place for tiny traffic infractions,” said Adelina Nicholls, the executive director of the Georgia Latino Alliance for Human Rights.
But to Butch Conway, the longtime sheriff of Gwinnett County, there is no reason his deputies should not turn in immigrants caught driving without a license. They are, after all, doubly breaking the law.
“I find it offensive that they just thumb their nose at our laws and operate vehicles they are not licensed to operate,” Mr. Conway said in a 2010 interview, “on top of the fact that they are here illegally.” (Through a spokeswoman, he declined to comment for this article.)
In nearby Cobb County, Maria Hernandez, a school janitor from Mexico, was arrested while driving home from work one night in May. An officer conducting a random license tag check, a common practice in some police departments, had determined through a state database that the tag had been suspended because the car lacked insurance. After pulling over Ms. Hernandez, the officer then discovered she had no driver’s license.
Her boss tried to bail her out of the Cobb County jail, but was told that the money would go to waste: She was headed to immigration detention, where she would spend three days trying to explain that she was a single mother with a sick child. Estefania, her 13-year-old daughter, was being treated for depression after a suicide attempt.
Ms. Hernandez was released, given an ankle monitor and told to report back with a plane ticket. (A lawyer has helped delay the deportation.)
Her car, in fact, was insured; the officer had called in the wrong license tag, according to a Cobb County Police Department spokesman, Sgt. Dana Pierce.
Sergeant Pierce said it made no difference, given Ms. Hernandez’s lack of a driver’s license. Generally, “there is no singling out of any race, creed, color, religion or anything else,” the sergeant said.
But by the time the mistake was discovered, it was too late. Ms. Hernandez was already being booked into the county jail.”
Read Yee’s complete article at the link.
As has been noted before on this blog, the U.S. Immigration Courts in Georgia also have the reputation of being most anti-migrant in the country.