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Hard line immigration group says Decatur is not violating state sanctuary law

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Hard line immigration group says Decatur is not violating state sanctuary law

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

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

This story has been updated. 

The Dustin Inman Society isn’t known for being soft on people who violate immigration laws. The Southern Poverty Law Center calls it a “nativist extremist” group, which it defines as a group that personally confronts suspected undocumented immigrants or those who hire or help them.

It’s a label that the Dustin Inman Society does not agree with, but it would be fair to say the group is vehemently opposed to immigrants who are not legally authorized to live in the United States, calling it “a clear and present danger to our national security and public safety.”

The group’s founder, D.A. King, has filed 19 of the 20 cases heard by state’s Immigration Enforcement Review Board, the same board that’s now in receipt of a complaint against the city of Decatur by Lt. Gov. Casey Cagle. The Lieutenant governor is also the Republican front runner in the race to succeed Gov. Nathan Deal.

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Cagle has accused the city of Decatur of violating state law prohibiting “sanctuary cities” because of the city’s decision to put a longstanding policy in writing regarding cooperation with Immigration and Customs Enforcement. The city said it does not detain immigrants without a valid warrant from ICE and never has. Officers who violate the policy could face disciplinary action. The city also doesn’t have a jail.

King contacted Decaturish to make it clear that he doesn’t think the city is violating state law. He would know, he says, because he was involved in drafting it. He noted that Decatur’s policy refers to immigration detainers, requests by Immigration and Customs Enforcement to hold immigration suspects for 48 hours so they can be picked up by federal immigration agents.

“The law, when we drafted it, it’s drafted so that it mimics the sanctuary violations in federal law, which has to do with communicating the immigration status of any individual,” King said. “It doesn’t say one single word about whether you would honor a detainer. It’s not anywhere in the law, federal or state.”

So King feels that Decatur isn’t violating state law?

“I would say I don’t see a violation of the state sanctuary city law by what Decatur has done,” King said. “While I certainly don’t approve of what Decatur has done, I don’t see it’s a violation of the language of the existing law.”

Whether or not King is correct will be determined by the Immigration Enforcement Review Board. Two of the board’s members are appointed by Cagle. The board’s chair, Shawn Hanley, criticized Decatur’s policy in an interview with the Atlanta Journal Constitution.

The city has always maintained it is abiding by the law. City Manager Peggy Merriss recently told Decaturish, “We will present our case before the IERB in response to the complaint with the hope that they provide a non-biased non-partisan forum and make a decision based on facts. We believe our position would prevail in that environment.”

Cagle has continued to step up his attacks and has called for withholding of state and federal funds from the city.

Decaturish left a message with Cagle’s office seeking comment about King’s comments. Previous messages seeking comment from Cagle have not been returned.

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