Decatur City Attorney Bryan Downs, at the podium to the right, appeared before the Georgia Immigration Enforcement Review Board on Monday with Police Chief Mike Booker, seated to Downs’ right, and defended the city against a complaint filed by Lt. Gov. Casey Cagle.
Photo: Jeremy Redmon/
Photo: Jeremy Redmon/

Decatur: Cagle not ‘man enough’ to appear at immigration board hearing

Decatur has ratcheted up its fight with Lt. Gov. Casey Cagle, accusing him of not being “man enough” to show up in person Monday for a hearing on an immigration-related complaint he has filed against the city.

While highlighting Cagle’s absence at Monday’s hearing, Decatur City Attorney Bryan Downs accused the lieutenant governor of using his taxpayer-funded office to file the complaint and to boost his Republican campaign for governor. Cagle refers to his complaint against Decatur on his campaign Facebook page, saying he has “led the fight against sanctuary cities in Decatur.”

“I find it appalling and I think a lot of people are going to find it appalling that Mr. Cagle filed this complaint and has been out on the campaign trail,” Downs said before the Georgia Immigration Enforcement Review Board voted to table a decision about Cagle’s complaint. “He wasn’t man enough to come here today and make these allegations and maybe even put his hand up and swear under oath to answer questions.”

Casey Cagle is running for Governor. The AJC had three questions for him.

A spokesman for Cagle said the lieutenant governor did not attend Monday’s hearing because he had other scheduled events, adding that Cagle’s counsel represented him at the hearing. Further, Cagle released a statement after the board met urging the panel to rule that Decatur is violating a state law that prohibits “sanctuary policies.”

“Throughout this process, I’ve simply been calling on the City of Decatur to follow the law,” his statement says. “Common-sense Georgians understand that Decatur’s policy is a blatant attempt to ignore Georgia’s immigration laws.”

He added, “Law enforcement agencies at every level of government must work together to make sure that criminal illegal aliens who harm our citizens are arrested, convicted, deported, and never allowed back inside our nation’s borders.”

At issue is a Decatur policy that prohibits city police from arresting, detaining or transporting anyone based solely on a detainer from U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement. Such detainers are requests to hold people for up to 48 hours beyond when they would normally be released so the agency can pick them up and seek to deport them. Some federal courts have found complying with ICE detainers can violate Fourth Amendment protections against unreasonable searches and seizures.

Cagle has accused the city of violating a state law that prohibits blocking local authorities from “communicating or cooperating with federal officials or law enforcement officers with regard to reporting immigration status information.” Decatur has denied Cagle’s allegations.

In defending Decatur on Monday, Downs called several city officials to testify before the board, including Police Chief Mike Booker. The chief testified that his officers are not blocked from communicating or cooperating with ICE. He also pointed out the city doesn’t have its own jail and added he couldn’t recall his office ever interacting with ICE or receiving an ICE detainer.

“As long as we have a judicial warrant,” Booker said, “we will treat it like any other arrest we have ever made and offer full assistance.”

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