Georgia law to identify undocumented immigrants passes in the House, what it means for Athens | CityNews

Legislators in the Georgia state House of Representatives passed House Bill 1105, also known as The Georgia Criminal Alien Track and Report Act, on Thursday, Feb. 29. This would require every eligible police and sheriff’s department to help identify undocumented immigrants, arrest them and detain them for deportation.

The bill would also require these departments to publish a report every 90 days detailing data on “immigration status, offenses and home countries of mates who are not United States citizens, who are confined under the authority of the department and regarding whom the United States Immigration and Customs Enforcement Division of the Department of Homeland Security has issued immigration detainers.”

The bill now moves to the state Senate floor for further debate on its passage.

In 2019, the Athens-Clarke County mayor and commission passed a resolution in “support of [the] Athens immigrant, undocumented and Latinx community” to celebrate diversity and defend the humanity of all people, including citizens, noncitizens and those without documentation who call Athens home.

This is, however, not the same as a sanctuary city.

While there is no legal definition for sanctuary policy, cities that adhere to these policies obstruct or limit cooperation with federal immigration enforcement such as Immigration and Customs Enforcement, commonly known as ICE, and others.

Despite the resolution to increase support for the migrant community, Athens is still not a sanctuary city.

Under state law, Georgia has prohibited all cities and counties within the state from enacting or enforcing a sanctuary policy since 2009.

Despite the statewide efforts to suppress local efforts to enact sanctuary policy, ACC Unified Government has still been pushed to do what they can to support all those who reside within Athens, while also condemning white supremacy and institutions that discriminate against minorities.

Currently, ACC police officers do not have immediate access to immigration status, but the Clarke County Sheriff’s Office does, according to an email from the ACCPD Public Information Office.

Immigration status is governed by ICE’s 287(g) program and, in the case of Athens-Clarke County, given to the sheriff’s office to oversee. The general process of identifying and removing non-citizens with criminal or pending criminal charges arrested by state and local law enforcement agencies is handled during booking supervised by the law enforcement agency responsible for the jail, which in Athens-Clarke County is the sheriff’s office, according to the ACCPD email.

Most immigration laws come from the federal government and are enacted by Congress. This means the federal government oversees and determines immigration status, visas, green cards and citizenship, and funnels that power to the local level on a state-by-state basis.

President Biden, at the beginning of his presidency, pushed for a reversal of Trump-era restrictions on immigration into the US by increasing refugee admissions, keeping deportation relief and not denying green cards to immigrants. Now, Biden is reverting to advocating for stricter border control policy with asylum restrictions.

Georgia has historically supported laws that control or restrict immigration. Gov. Brian Kemp has pushed for harsher border policy since the start of Biden’s presidency.