Mayor Keisha Lance Bottoms signed an executive order on Thursday calling for the Atlanta Detention Center to refuse new detainees made by the U.S. Immigrant Customs and Enforcement under the agreement with the United States Marshals Service. The order further directs Atlanta Corrections Chief Patrick Labat to request the transfer of all current ICE detainees out of the Atlanta Detention Center.
“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,” said Mayor Bottoms in a statement.
Mayor Bottom’s executive order was made among the nationwide call by immigrant rights activists and progressive Democratic candidates to end cooperation with ICE after the Trump Administration’s zero-tolerance policy led to an human-rights crisis of family separation on the United States/Mexico border. The administration has since rescinded this policy, however more than 500 immigrant children still remain separated from their families in government custody according to a report made by the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) in August.
The executive order effectively ends a eight-year agreement between the City of Atlanta and the U.S. Marshals Service to accept ICE detainees at the Atlanta Detention Center. That agreement was halted by a previous executive order made by Mayor Bottoms in June of this year, while Thursday’s order calls for an immediate transfer of all Atlanta ICE detainees to other facilities.
As of Wednesday, there were just five ICE detainees in the Atlanta Detention Center, down from 205 in June. According to the Atlanta Journal-Constitution, the number fell due to ICE releasing, deportoring, and/or transporting them to other state detention centers in Folkston, Lumpkin, and Ocilla.
“I, like many others, have been horrified watching the impact of President Trump’s zero tolerance immigration policy on children and families,” Bottoms said in a statement to the Atlanta-Journal Constitution. “My personal angst has been compounded by the City of Atlanta’s long-standing agreement with the U.S. Marshal’s Office to house ICE detainees in our City jail.”
Though this is a significant blow by state government against the Trump Administration's immigration policies, it remains unclear where the five detainees will be placed and what is to come of ICE’s presence in the Greater Atlanta area.
Mayor Bottoms’ executive order called for launched several new initiatives to support local immigrant communities including a partnership with Uber, Catholic Charities, and Lutheran Family Services to provide free transportation and meals to families separated at the border and reunited in Atlanta. Bottoms additionally asked the City Council to approve an expansion of legal services to immigrants.
The Mayor has also announced that the City of Atlanta along with other U.S. cities have requested support from federal courts to protect Americans who have Temporary Protective Status (TPS) from deportation. This will assist 12,000 Georgians who are from El Salvador, Sudan, Haiti, and other affected countries.