Mayor Keisha Lance Bottoms

Mayor Keisha Lance Bottoms has waded into the controversy over the separation of children at the border, signing an executive order on Wednesday that prohibits the City of Atlanta Jail from accepting any new detainees apprehended by Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) agents.

Bottoms executive order drew swift condemnation from Republicans, but Bottoms said Thursday in a news conference and later in an interview with CNN that she would not allow the city to be “complicit in the separation of children.”

The mayor said the jail turned away nine detainees on Wednesday night after she signed the order. There are around 200 already in the jail awaiting adjudication or deportation.

“Atlanta is an inclusive city. We look at this moment in time and recognize that we have a responsibility to make a difference just as we did during Civil Rights movement,” Bottoms said.

President Donald Trump was forced to backtrack on separating children from their parents who are apprehended at the Mexican border for trying to cross illegally into the United States. He signed an executive order this afternoon. ending the process after weeks of bipartisan outcry, which reached a crescendo this week as photos and sound of children crying and calling out for their parents made national headlines.

Here is Mayor Bottoms statement on her executive order:

“I, like many others, have been horrified watching the impact of President Trump’s zero tolerance immigration policy on children and families. My personal angst has been compounded by the City of Atlanta’s long-standing agreement with the U. S. Marshall’s Office to house ICE detainees in our City jail. While this arrangement may seem hypocritical to my personal stance, the reality of the detention of those seeking legal status in our country is most often not if they are detained, but where they will be held. As we work as a nation to end this despicable immigration policy, the City of Atlanta will not take the risk of being complicit in the separation of families at the border. Thus, I have signed an Executive Order that prohibits the City jail from accepting any new ICE detainees.

“I am concerned that the City’s refusal to accept detainees will result in individuals being sent to private, substandard, for-profit facilities in the state, as these facilities do not offer publicly-funded access to legal representation that may help detainees successfully challenge their immigration status, but the inhumane action of family separation demands that Atlanta act now.

“On behalf of the people of Atlanta, I am calling upon the Trump Administration and Congress to enact humane and comprehensive measures that address our broken immigration system.

“I have instructed City officials to closely monitor this situation and ensure that Atlanta continues to fulfill our legacy of inclusion, compassion and tolerance.”

Collin Kelley

Collin Kelley has been the editor of Atlanta Intown for two decades and has been a journalist and freelance writer for 35 years. He’s also an award-winning poet and novelist.