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Attorneys seek to move immigration case to federal court
Hall County says federal government has jurisdiction
Arturo Corso
Arturo Corso

Attorneys for the Hall County sheriff and solicitor filed to move a civil action involving the county Jail’s immigration policy to the federal courthouse.

A habeas corpus petition was entered Sept. 22 into the Hall County Courthouse on behalf of two people facing immigration holds under the 287(g) immigration policy. Their attorney, Arturo Corso, claimed in the petition that the policy creates a legal “dead zone.”

The civil action names Hall County Sheriff Gerald Couch and Hall County Solicitor Stephanie Woodard as the respondents in the case.

Hall County Attorney Bill Blalock and attorneys Theodore Freeman, Brian Dempsey and Wesley Jackson filed their notice Friday to remove the case to U.S. District Court.

“We’re just removing it over there because that’s the proper jurisdiction for determining federal questions,” Blalock said.

Corso previously told The Times that one of the men named in the lawsuit, Jose Delgado, is a legal permanent U.S. resident who faced an immigration hold for months.

“When the (Immigration and Customs Enforcement) Agents act upon (the sheriff’s) 287(g) hold, they act to forcibly remove an accused person from the jurisdiction of the courts where the criminal complaint is still pending,” according to the initial petition.

The 287(g) program is a federal initiative that trains local law enforcement officers in identifying undocumented persons. The Hall County Detention Center entered the program in 2007.

“Although styled as a habeas corpus petition, the petition is a constitutional challenge to a federal immigration statute,” according to the notice of removal. “Petitioners allege that respondent Couch’s participation in the enforcement of federal immigration law ... violates their federal constitutional rights.”

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