ATLANTA – Atlanta is preparing to permanently end its relationship with Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) in regards to accepting immigration detainees at the Atlanta City Jail, Mayor Keisha Lance Bottoms announced Thursday.
“We will no longer be complicit with a policy that intentionally inflicts misery on a vulnerable population without giving any thought to the fallout,” Lance Bottoms said. “As the birthplace of the civil rights movement, we are called to be better than this.”
Thursday’s announcement comes after Lance Bottoms signed an executive order in June that said the city would not accept any more ICE detainees. She also issued an executive order to end the contract between ICE and the city jail.
Since then, Lance Bottoms said several ICE detainees have been removed from the jail with approximately five people still held.
She said the city will issue a formal request for ICE to remove all detainees from the jail as soon as possible.
Michelle Maziar with the Mayor's Office of Immigrant Affairs says this step bends the city's arch closer to justice.
"I, along with everyone here, have been horrified not just by the stories of families separated at the U.S. - Mexico border, but also families separated here in metro Atlanta," Mazier said.
Just a few months ago, anti-ICE protests erupted in front of the Atlanta City Detention Center, protesting the Trump administration's zero-tolerance policy that separated thousands of families at the Southern U.S. border.
Atlanta Detention Center isn't the only immigration detention center in Georgia.
ICE told 11Alive the Atlanta facility only accounts for 10 percent of the agency's detention capacity in Georgia, with federal detention centers in Lumpkin and Ocilla, and Atlanta's announcement has "essentially no impact" on ICE operations.
Azadeh Shahshani, legal and advocacy director for Project South, thinks the mayor's announcement is a step forward -- but more can be done.
"There are detention centers elsewhere in Georgia that we are very concerned about and we are working toward hopefully shutting them down," Shashani said.