ATLANTA -- A state board is scheduling a hearing next month on an immigration complaint filed by Lieutenant Gvernor Casey Cagle. Cagle is running for Governor next year. His complaint is against the city of Decatur, one of metro Atlanta’s most Democratic enclaves.
It’s unlikely Cagle will spend much time seeking votes in Decatur. But by clobbering Decatur’s immigration policies, he might pick up plenty of votes in conservative areas from Hahira to Hiawassee.
To hear the attorney for the city of Decatur explain it, the city’s policy is simply about protecting individual rights.
"We will only arrest someone if there’s an arrest warrant, executed by a magistrate or a judge. They will not honor an administrative request from a federal agency," said Bryan Downs, Decatur's city attorney.
Even if that federal agency is an immigration enforcement agency.
And that’s where Cagle, running for the Republican nomination for governor, has found an issue. Cagle has complained that the Decatur policy is tantamount to creating a sanctuary city, in violation of state law. He has turned to an obscure state board, the immigration and enforcement review board, to make his case against Decatur.
Cagle didn’t attend, but the board has members and plenty of fans who think illegal immigration is an issue too often overlooked. "(Decatur is) basically saying we are going to defend illegal aliens, and we are not going to defend the American way of life," said Karen Sacandy, a Woodstock attorney who attended a brief hearing Wednesday at the Capitol. "We know that Mexico is basically a set of cartels. There’s mass murder, beheadings, and when (Mexicans) come up here, the culture is going to come with it."
The board’s chairman says the board could fine Decatur if it finds it’s out of compliance with state law.
"This is a serious board. It’s a serious issue," said Shawn Hanley, the board's chairman. "And Georgia taxpayers are a little tired of their money going toward entities that are protecting illegals in the state of Georgia."
Asked if the board was advancing a political agenda, Hanley said "not at all." Downs expressed cautious optimism about Decatur's case. "We are hoping for a very serious and impartial and non-political review of this situation," Down said.
Testimony will take place before the board at a January hearing -- just four months before the Republican primary in May.