Atlanta mayor orders ICE detainees removed from city's detention center

Count Atlanta’s Mayor Keisha Lance Bottoms as the latest elected official to move to voice contempt for the Trump administration’s policies on illegal immigration. Thursday she signed an executive order calling for the transfer of all ICE detainees out of the city’s detention center. The order also declares the city will no longer hold any federal detainee.

This executive order is a follow-up to one she signed in June that called for an end to cooperating with ICE on taking any new detainees. This is all in response to the family separation policies in the news at the time. The family separations ended but the social justice warriors on taxpayer payrolls march on.

“Atlanta will no longer be complicit in a policy that intentionally inflicts misery on a vulnerable population without giving any thought to the horrific fallout,” Bottoms told reporters moments before signing her executive order. “As the birthplace of the civil rights movement we are called to be better than this.”

Thursday’s executive order signing coincided with the Trump administration’s move to withdraw from the Flores Settlement, a consent decree signed in 1997 that limits the government’s ability to detain illegal alien children. The Trump administration is looking to extend the current 20 day limit on detaining children. The change does not, however, bring back the family separation policy that the mayor originally protested. It will allow longer detention with the families kept intact.

As expected, immigration rights lawyers responded to the administration’s desire to change the consent decree.

“It is sickening to see the United States government looking for ways to jail more children for longer,” said Omar Jadwat, director of the American Civil Liberties Union’s Immigrants’ Rights Project. “That’s the complete opposite of what we should be doing — and it’s yet another example of the Trump administration’s hostility toward immigrants resulting in a policy incompatible with the most basic human values.”

This all smacks of political grandstanding for the sake of Democratic votes to be gained in November. It is all about continuing on with the standard trope that Republicans are racist and lacking compassion. As the state’s gubernatorial race stands right now, for example, the Democrat nominee and Republican nominee are in a very close race. If elected, the Democrat nominee, Stacey Abrams, will be the first black woman elected as Georgia’s governor. She was happy to respond with her approval of the move through a spokeswoman, commending the mayor for her “efforts to combat the impact of the administration’s cruel and inhumane family separation policy. Anyone who stands against keeping families together lacks any kind of moral compass.”

The new executive order doesn’t state where the detainees will be moved to, but that they are to be transferred by ICE out of the city detention center “as soon as possible.”

“As we work to achieve our vision of an Atlanta that is welcoming and inclusive, with equal opportunity for all, it is untenable for our City to be complicit in the inhumane immigration policies that have led to the separation of hundreds of families at the United States southern border,” Bottoms said in a statement.

The city has a contract with the federal government and is looking into how to handle the situation legally. There are also three privately-owned facilities in south Georgia to house detainees. In June the mayor claimed that nine illegal aliens were turned away from the city facility. (emphasis mine)

The city is paid $78 a day for each ICE detainee it holds in its jail through its contract with the U.S. Marshals Service, collecting $7.5 million through this arrangement so far this fiscal year: more than a fifth of the jail’s annual $33 million budget. Bottoms acknowledged the city must make some budget decisions and is considering several options for the jail’s future.

ICE claims that the city’s facility accounts for about 10% of the total count of detainees held in Georgia. Again, this gesture from the mayor points to political grandstanding in an election year. No other reasons were cited for this week’s action other than that of posturing about feelings and charges of immorality from the Trump administration. There are no claims that the Atlanta facility is full and can’t accommodate any more detainees. The mayor just wants them gone.

In June, when the mayor signed the first executive order halting detentions, ICE learned of the move via a press release. It seems to me if these two moves against the Trump administration’s policies were well-thought out, instead of impulsive political attacks, the proper authorities would have been notified so that a transition could be made without disrupting public safety.

“We learned about the mayor’s announcement along with everyone else,” ICE spokesman Bryan Cox said. “We learned about this via press release.”

The mayor’s feelings and political aspirations don’t get to overrule federal laws and contracts. Placing illegal aliens over the citizens and legal residents of Atlanta and the state of Georgia is very bad leadership and she should be held accountable. Feelings don’t trump law.

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