- - Monday, January 31, 2011

GEORGIA

Report: Immigration law not enforced consistently

ATLANTA | Some local law enforcement agencies, particularly in the Southeast, are turning over illegal immigrants who commit even minor offenses to federal authorities for deportation, while others are focused on deporting more violent criminals, according to a report released Monday.

The report by the Migration Policy Institute, a Washington-based nonpartisan think tank, said conflicting messages from the U.S. government and local political pressure may account for the discrepancy.


The study, which examined a program that allows participating local agencies to enforce federal immigration law, found that several agencies in the Southeast were turning over every illegal immigrant taken into custody. An influx of immigrants in the generally conservative region has heightened political tension, the report said. North Carolina, Georgia, Tennessee and South Carolina were in the top six in terms of growth rates of foreign-born populations from 1990 to 2009.

The study focused on the 287(g) program — named for the section of federal law governing it — issued by U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement. The U.S. Homeland Security Department, which includes ICE, in 2009 wrote new contracts for the local-federal partnerships and issued new guidelines telling local officers to focus primarily on illegal immigrants charged with crimes like rape, murder, robbery or drug offenses.

But top U.S. government officials — who have said the program that is in place in 71 jurisdictions nationwide can also be useful for deporting illegal immigrants when resources allow — offer a conflicting message, the report said.

LOUISIANA

CDC: No link between deaths, Chinese drywall

NEW ORLEANS | The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention said Monday it has found no link between tainted Chinese drywall and the deaths of 11 people exposed to the imported drywall in Louisiana, Florida and Virginia homes.

The CDC said in a report Monday that the people died without exception due to “pre-existing chronic health conditions unrelated to imported drywall exposure.”

The findings by the Atlanta-based health agency back up previous findings by the Consumer Product Safety Commission.

Large quantities of defective Chinese-made drywall were imported during a past housing boom and after a string of Gulf Coast hurricanes five years ago. The drywall has been linked to corrosion in thousands of homes, mostly in Florida, Virginia, Mississippi, Alabama and Louisiana.

The CDC found that seven of the 11 people who died had cancer and seven had heart problems. For the review, state medical examiners and the CDC probed 10 deaths in Louisiana and Florida — five in each state — and a single death in Virginia.

The deaths were reported to regulators as possibly being linked to drywall.

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