May 29, 2018 - Atlanta, GA - Atlanta Mayor Keisha Lance Bottoms greets member of the region's Muslim community at a Ramadan Iftar dinner held in Atlanta City Hall. (Credit Image: © Robin Rayne Nelson via ZUMA Wire)

Atlanta’s mayor stops city from housing ICE detainees

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Refusing to participate in the zero tolerance policy, Atlanta’s mayor says “no” to Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) detainees, while encouraging other cities to follow.

Atlanta’s mayor, Keisha Lance Bottoms announced last week that she signed an executive order stopping ICE detainees from being housed at the Atlanta City Detention Center.

“As a country, we are better than this. We are better than separating families. These are human beings. These are children. These are mothers. These are fathers. These are families,” said Bottoms at a press conference.

Although, the city is under federal contract to hold ICE detainees, Bottoms said that she did not want to the city to “inadvertently become complicit to the president’s policies.”

Read how protests against zero tolerance immigration policy.

Like others, she watched news footage about the separation of families and could not agree to the zero tolerance code. In her conference she pushed for other cities to stand up to the federal government’s new ICE regulations. “There is power in numbers,” Bottoms urged.

The refusal might present another problem for detainees. Bottoms points out that detainees might be “sent to private, substandard, for-profit facilities in the state, as these facilities do not offer publicly-funded access to legal representation that may help detainees successfully challenge their immigration status …” 

However, she simply could not allow the type of treatment being reported. In a statement, Bottoms wrote, “ … the inhumane action of family separation demands that Atlanta act now. ”

Lt. Governor Casey Cagle warned the mayor “not to go too far.” Cagle, a staunch advocate for rigid immigration laws filed a complaint against the City of Decatur for its sanctuary city status. Decatur borders Atlanta and is part of the city’s metro area. Cagle commented, “We do have a sanctuary city law in place here in the state of Georgia that we will communicate and cooperate with our federal partners both ICE and Homeland Security.”

Bottoms has not ruled out closing the contract with the federal government, according to Fox 5 Atlanta.

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