Atlanta Mayor Bottoms orders jail to refuse new ICE detainees

Photo: Keisha Lance Bottoms Twitter
Photo: Keisha Lance Bottoms Twitter

 Cagle, Kemp pick a fight with Atlanta mayor over detainee order

The two Republican contenders for governor slammed Atlanta Mayor Keisha Lance Bottoms’ decision to block the city jail from housing more federal detainees facing deportation. 

Lt. Gov. Casey Cagle tagged the mayor in a tweet late Wednesday declaring he has “led to outlaw and defund sanctuary cities and WE WILL uphold our laws.” And Secretary of State Brian Kemp said the city should honor its “longstanding agreement” to house the detainees.

“Public safety – not partisan politics – must always come first,” Kemp said.

Bottoms, a Democrat who took office in January, cited her objections to President Donald Trump’s “zero tolerance” policy that separated immigrant families who cross the U.S. border illegally when she signed the order.

It came just minutes after Trump reversed his stance in favor of a new approach to keep families together during immigration proceedings. 

Both Republicans, who square off in a July 24 runoff, have defended Trump’s policy and pledged tougher state crackdowns. Cagle has long scrapped with Decatur over immigration policy and Kemp aired ads vowing to “round up criminal illegals” himself. 

Bottoms didn’t immediately respond to the GOP attacks on the policy shift, which comes after years of criticism from immigrant-rights advocates who slammed Atlanta for holding detainees for U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement. 

But City Councilman Matt Westmoreland fired back at Cagle on social media. 

“It’s a voluntary contract. That we should end immediately,” he wrote the lieutenant governor. “And posts like this are a helpful reminder why.”

Read more: Atlanta won’t take more ICE detainees while families are separated 


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About the Author

Greg Bluestein
Greg Bluestein
Greg Bluestein is a political reporter who covers the governor's office and state politics for The Atlanta Journal-Constitution.