In this Feb. 7, 2017, photo released by U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement, foreign nationals are arrested during an ICE targeted enforcement operation in Los Angeles. (Charles Reed/U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement via AP)
Photo: Charles Reed/AP
Photo: Charles Reed/AP

The Jolt: Delayed ICE raids become a campaign issue in Georgia

Over the weekend, President Donald Trump postponed a massive sweep of raids that would have targeted undocumented immigrants in Atlanta - and set up a dicey showdown with local Democratic leaders.

The operation was to take aim at 2,000 families who had received deportation orders because members were in the country illegally. And the raids were set to begin Sunday in Atlanta and other major cities, a prospect that sowed fear and confusion across the region. 

But the president delayed the sweep over the weekend to give lawmakers two more weeks to hash out a solution. “If not,” he tweeted on Saturday afternoon, “Deportations start!”

A few hours before Trump’s tweet, state Rep. Brenda Lopez Romero blasted out an email to supporters with information about how to prepare for the raids, including Spanish and English instructions about what to do if agents from U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement show up at your door.

"Right now the best option this to be informed," she wrote in the email, which included links to websites from groups like the ACLU and Latino Community Fund Georgia. "Prepare yourself to protect yourself and family. Share this information with your networks."

Lopez Romero is an immigration attorney who moved to the U.S. from Mexico at age 5. She’s also one of a half-dozen Democrats vying for their party’s nomination in the Gwinnett and Forsyth-based 7th Congressional District. (She announced her bid for Congress this spring but is formally kicking off her campaign Friday evening with an event at the Gwinnett Historic Courthouse.)

The raids may have ultimately been postponed, but Lopez Romero’s email – and similar tweet from fellow Democratic candidate Nabilah Islam over the weekend– show some Democrats are ready to take the issue by the horns.

That’s not something to be ignored in the rapidly-changing 7th, where Latinos make up about 20 percent of the population.

***

Atlanta Mayor Keisha Bottoms has emerged as one of the more vocal critics to the immigration raids, saying in a statement the “cruel policy” wouldn’t help fix a broken immigration system.

“This is a siege on immigrant families and local municipalities by the federal government. The White House should be ashamed for the depths they are willing to sink to—including the separation of families and imprisonment of children—for what appears to be a re-election stunt," Bottoms said in a statement to news outlets.

***

Trump is giving Congress two weeks to cut a bipartisan deal overhauling the country’s asylum laws. As our Cox colleague Jamie Dupree notes, such an agreement has eluded Congress for years, but there could be movement this week on a $4.5 billion emergency spending package to help handle the humanitarian crisis on the southern border. Lawmakers are slated to vote on dueling proposals this week as they race toward their July 4th recess. 

***

The GOP is unveiling a long-awaited online fundraising platform today that party leaders hope will rival Democrats’ small-dollar machine, ActBlue. Politico reports that WinRed is “intended to reshape the GOP’s fundraising apparatus by creating a centralized, one-stop shop for online Republican giving, which the party has lacked to this point.”

Republican candidates have pushed the party to come up with an answer to ActBlue, which helped Democrats pull in more than $1.6 billion ahead of the 2018 elections. The bigger question is whether the GOP can build a small-dollar donor culture to rival Democrats’. 

***

State Sen. Greg Kirk posted two pieces of news on his Facebook page over the weekend. The Americus Republican announced he’s been diagnosed with bile duct cancer – and that he still plans to run for re-election in 2020. “I've got a long fight and road ahead of me. I need your prayers and Rosalyn needs your prayers,” the former pastor posted.

Georgia House Speaker David Ralston quickly circulated a statement wishing Kirk well. "While Senator Kirk’s news is devastating, we remain confident in the power of the Lord and the skill of his doctors to deal with this disease," said the Blue Ridge Republican. "As Greg said, he is a fighter — a tenacious one at that — and I know I speak for the whole House in wishing him well in the fight ahead."

***

If you haven’t already read our colleague Yamil Berard’s Sunday investigation into Georgia’s emergency medical services system, it is very much worth your time

***

On Friday, we told you of some new U.S. census data compiled by AJC number-cruncher Jennifer Peebles, who said that a decline in white population and a rise in minority numbers could result in Georgia becoming a majority-minority state by 2028.

A number of our readers assumed that this demographic shift was the result of illegal immigration across the southern U.S. border. And while it may be a factor, reality has more to do with declining birth rates among white Southerners, a return of African-Americans to the South, and decades of legal immigration into the U.S.

As a percentage of the population, white Georgians have declined by 3.2 percentage points. The largest part of minority gain, 1.9 percent, has been among black, non-Latino Americans. Another .9 percent has been among Asians. Latinos of all races, whether undocumented or not, account for another .9 percent.

***

They aren’t exactly political pals, but President Donald Trump has shown an affinity toward Jimmy Carter. 

They’ve chatted on the phone several times over the years, and Trump has delighted in Carter’s critique of his nemesis Hillary Clinton. (Carter revealed after the election that he supported Bernie Sanders in the primary.)

On Meet the Press on Sunday, host Chuck Todd pressed Trump about how Carter has become his go-to ex-president. Here’s the transcript: 

PRESIDENT DONALD TRUMP:

I speak to Jimmy Carter.

CHUCK TODD:

You do? What about President Obama?

PRESIDENT DONALD TRUMP:

I have not spoken to him --

CHUCK TODD:

But George W. Bush, you do?

PRESIDENT DONALD TRUMP:

-- pretty much from the beginning.

CHUCK TODD:

And Jimmy Carter?

PRESIDENT DONALD TRUMP:

I have spoken to Bush, I have spoken to Jimmy Carter, yes.

CHUCK TODD:

Do you get --

PRESIDENT DONALD TRUMP:

I like Jimmy Carter. You know, Jimmy Carter's oftentimes come to my defense. I don't necessarily agree with the way he ran things and that's okay. And he understands that and so do I. But he came to my defense on numerous occasions. And he thinks that I was treated the worst of anybody he's ever seen by the press.

***

Another Republican is jumping into the 7th District congressional race. Duluth-based teacher Lisa Noel Babbage announced her plans to seek the open seat over the weekend, joining an already crowded field that includes more than a half-dozen other Republicans. 

Babbage said she’s active in Women for Trump chapters in Georgia and Virginia and is vowing to donate a “significant portion of her legislative salary back to small businesses and community programs” in the 7th District.

Support real journalism. Support local journalism. Subscribe to The Atlanta Journal-Constitution today. See offers.

Your subscription to the Atlanta Journal-Constitution funds in-depth reporting and investigations that keep you informed. Thank you for supporting real journalism.

X