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Hate Free Decatur plans to ask City Commission to limit interaction with immigration agents

Crime and public safety Decatur slideshow

Hate Free Decatur plans to ask City Commission to limit interaction with immigration agents

Photo illustration obtained via https://www.ice.gov/

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Photo illustration obtained via https://www.ice.gov/

Local activists behind a push to remove a Confederate monument from the Decatur Square are also asking the city of Decatur to limit cooperation with Immigration and Customs Enforcement.

Hate Free Decatur plans to ask the Decatur City Commission to adopt a Non-Detainer policy at the commission’s Oct. 2 meeting. The policy would state that city police officers “will not prolong the detention of an immigrant per request of Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) without a judicially issued warrant.”

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“Members of the Georgia Not1More Coalition provided Decatur City Mayor Patti Garrett and Decatur City Manager Peggy Merriss a similar Non-Detainer policy over three months ago and yet the City has made no affirmative steps to adopt it,” the press release from Hate Free Decatur says. “This is unacceptable. As our immigrant friends and neighbors live in fear of ICE raids and arrests, we must show our love and support for them by urging the City Commission to adopt the resolution, drafted and presented to the Decatur City Mayor and City Manager by Project South, the Georgia Latino Alliance for Human Rights, and the Georgia Not1More Coalition, which is in compliance with current state and federal law.”

The press release also says, “In the wake of Trump’s revocation of President Obama’s EO granting Deferred Action to Childhood Arrivals (DACA), the Atlanta City Council voted overwhelmingly to adopt a non-detainer policy.”

“The City needs to adopt this policy as a statement of support to our immigrant friends and neighbors, who live in fear of ICE coming into their homes, places of work and worship, brutalizing them and their families and communities,” the press release from Hate Free Decatur says. “If this City truly believes it is a Welcoming City and a Compassionate City, then it is time for them stand behind their words and adopt this resolution. Otherwise the resolutions declaring the City as Welcoming and Compassionate are empty.”

Bryan Cox, a spokesperson for ICE, said the claims in the press release are “false” regarding Atlanta’s policy, saying “the city [of Atlanta] is on record that the resolution cited was only symbolic in nature and did not change any city policy.”

“As for the allegations specific to ICE, they are baseless,” Cox said.  “ICE only conducts targeted enforcement in full accordance with federal law and agency policy. ICE does not conduct raids nor any other type of indiscriminate enforcement activity. Nor does ICE conduct immigration enforcement at places of worship or other designated sensitive locations. This group’s statements to the contrary are false.”

The agency’s enforcement priorities have changed under President Trump, however, and have expanded to include individuals who are not necessarily violent criminals. These individuals were the primary targets under the Obama administration. The changed priorities have stoked fear in the immigrant community, who report ICE agents making arrests at their jobs or at their homes, sometimes under false pretenses.

Over the summer, one Decatur resident reported that they were questioned by an ICE agent in their driveway. The agent, who was in an unmarked SUV with tinted windows, stopped at the entrance of the driveway and began asking the resident questions. The SUV blocked the resident from leaving to go to work. The agent showed a photo of a man from El Salvador and asked if the resident had seen him living at a neighbor’s house.The resident said they had not seen the man, and asked if he was a threat to the community. The ICE agent said no.

Hate Free Decatur has had some success in getting the City Commission to take action on the monument. Following a rally and a discussion – as well as lengthy public comments during the Sept. 18 City Commission meeting – the Decatur City Commission voted to formally call for the monument’s removal. The commission also asked the Legislature to change the state law that prohibits officials from removing it. State Rep. Mary Margaret Oliver said she is in the process of drafting legislation that would give local governments the ability to decide whether or not to remove a monument.

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