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State immigration board to delay ruling on complaint against Decatur

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State immigration board to delay ruling on complaint against Decatur

City Attorney Bryan Downs File Photo by Mariann Martin

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City Attorney Bryan Downs presented evidence during the May 15 Immigration Enforcement Review Board Hearing which was attended by several city officials, including Mayor Patti Garrett (left) and Police Chief Mike Booker (right). Photo by Mariann Martin

The city of Decatur will have to wait for the state Immigration Enforcement Review Board to rule on a complaint Lt. Gov. Casey Cagle filed against the city.

Initially, the board signaled it would vote on the matter at its June 27 meeting. A preliminary ruling released by the board indicated that the board would rule against Decatur and order the city to change its policy regarding immigration suspects or lose state funding.


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The ruling came days before the Republican gubernatorial primary. That’s notable because Cagle is a leading candidate for governor and appoints two members to the IERB. Cagle will face Republican Secretary of State Brian Kemp in the July 24 runoff.

The agenda for the June 27 meeting shows the Decatur case is a discussion item, but says no action “is expected.”

Board Chair Shawn Hanley told Decaturish via text that the decision is being delayed due to “multiple issues.”

Among them are, “Some schedule conflicts, our need to satisfy the statutory law requirements by having a full meeting and not a review panel meeting.”

“There are two other review panels that need some attention and other complaints that need to be handled,” he added.

A lawsuit filed by the city of Decatur asks a judge to throw out the IERB’s ruling because the city alleges it was reached via meetings held in violation of the state’s Open Meetings Act. The amended complaint is part of two ongoing lawsuits alleging open meetings and open records law violations.

In related news, the Atlanta Journal Constitution reports that Decatur Attorney Tom Stubbs filed an ethics complaint against Cagle alleging he is using taxpayer resources to pursue his complaint against Decatur.

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.

Decatur is not a sanctuary city and Decatur’s City Commission has flatly refused to adopt “sanctuary city” status as other cities around the country have done. A resident requested the city do so at the Dec. 19, 2016 City Commission meeting. Mayor Patti Garrett said the city could not do this, citing state law. The City Commission received a similar request during public comments at a meeting in February 2017 and Garrett reiterated the city’s position, saying that the city would be at risk of losing state funds if it adopted a “sanctuary city” policy.

The Dustin Inman Society, a hardline anti illegal-immigration group that has filed most of the complaints received by the IERB board, says Cagle’s complaint is without merit.

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