Localities in Georgia and Tennessee Refuse ICE Detainers
By Colton R. Overcash | September 14, 2018
Despite state anti-sanctuary laws, some localities in Georgia and Tennessee are implementing policies that contravene their state laws.
Shelby County, Tennessee
The Shelby County Sheriff’s Office in Tennessee, which covers the area around Memphis, will no longer honor detainer requests from Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) following a directive issued by the county attorney’s office. The directive was issued in April after an illegal alien was detained by authorities in a high-profile arrest. The illegal alien allegedly evaded deportation for more than 11 years.
In the directive, Shelby County Attorney Kathryn Pascover said that the sheriff’s office could “violate the Fourth Amendment” if it accepted ICE detainer requests and held illegal aliens past their scheduled release dates.
However, in March of this year, the month before Pascover’s directive, the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Fifth Circuit held that cooperation with federal immigration officials on ICE detainers does not violate the Fourth Amendment, when it upheld almost all of Texas’s anti-sanctuary law, Senate Bill (SB) 4.
It is unclear what will happen to the directive moving forward. Tennessee passed a new state law dramatically strengthening Tennessee’s prohibition on sanctuary policies, House Bill (HB) 2315, which goes into effect on January 1, 2019. Among other things, the new law requires local authorities to comply with ICE detainer requests.
Georgia’s largest and most populous city has also implemented sanctuary policies despite a statewide ban on them. Atlanta has ignored detainer requests since the city council passed a resolution last September. However, in June, Mayor Keisha Bottoms (D) signed an executive order terminating its partnership with ICE, stating that Atlanta would no longer house any new federal immigration detainees. On September 6, she requested that ICE remove its remaining detainees from the jail as soon as possible.
The decision potentially puts law enforcement and other city personnel at risk as the city’s jail budget will be reduced significantly. The city collected $7.5 million from ICE from detention contracts last fiscal year, almost a quarter of the jail’s $33 million budget. Bottoms acknowledged that the city will have to make some tough budget decisions to make up for the loss, which could result in budget cuts elsewhere or tax increases. This shortfall could possibly also reduce the size of jail staff and hinder their ability to maintain law and order at detention facilities.
Despite this, Bottoms wrote that Atlanta “will no longer be complicit with a policy that intentionally inflicts misery on a vulnerable population without giving any thought to the fallout.” Her statement places greater emphasis on illegal aliens while more importantly ignoring the welfare and safety of American citizens and legal immigrants in her community.
Shawn Hanley, Chairman of Georgia’s Immigration Enforcement Review Board, condemned canceling the detention contract as “knee-jerk policy” that “put[s] the rest of the world ahead of Americans,” and “is going to result in some type of abhorrent crime somewhere in the city.”