ICE was in the ballot — and lost big in the New South
Republicans lost sheriff’s elections last week in populous Southern counties that have been close ICE allies. This is likely to bring an end to prominent ICE contracts in Georgia’s Cobb and Gwinnett counties and in Charleston County, South Carolina.
The three Democrats prevailed. Cobb County’s longtime sheriff, Neil Warren, lost to challenger Craig Owens. In Gwinnett County, a sheriff with notoriously aggressive policies toward immigrants retired, and the resulting open race was won by Kebo Taylor. And in Charleston County, Sheriff Al Cannon lost to Kristin Graziano.
Charleston, Cobb, and Gwinnett are all members of ICE’s 287(g) program, which deputizes local law enforcement to act like federal immigration agents within jails. The program has put thousands of people each year on ICE’s radar. As a result, people can be funneled into deportation proceedings and find themselves locked up in detention centers that are known for inhumane conditions.
These results are major wins for immigrants’ rights advocates who have long worked to change policies in these jurisdictions, which are home to more than 2 million residents combined.
“We celebrate the ouster of the sheriffs who were responsible for the targeting of community members, working in collusion with ICE,” Azadeh Shahshahani, legal and advocacy director of Project South, told The Appeal: Political Report. “These incredible victories are the culmination of more than a decade of fighting back by immigrants’ rights organizers against the devastating 287(g) program which led to untold numbers of families being torn apart.”
Other organizations, such as Mijente, Project South, the Georgia Latino Alliance for Human Rights, and SONG Power, fought to curtail ICE’s reach through these sheriff’s races, and through protests and community events. And in a project sponsored by the Georgia NAACP, the group Informed Georgians for Justice sent questionnaires to all Georgia sheriff candidates, inviting them to clarify their views on immigration and other issues.
Many other candidates who called to end local ties with ICE prevailed.
- Charmaine McGuffey won a heated sheriff’s race in Ohio’s Hamilton County (Cincinnati)
- In Massachusetts’s Norfolk County, voters ousted a GOP sheriff who had championed greater ICE cooperation.
- In Florida’s Miami-Dade County, Democrat Daniella Levine Cava flipped the mayor’s seat from the GOP. Cava ran on curtailing cooperation with ICE.
Source: From the article, “ICE Suffered Blows in the South in Last Week’s Elections” By Daniel Nichanian for the Appeal: Political Report.