Clarkston Rethinks its Relationship with ICE, Passes Non-detainer Policy
(APN) CLARKSTON — The City Council of Clarkston, Georgia, has passed a non-detainer policy on May 02, 2017 that prohibits the federal agency Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) from arresting people in Clarkston with a “detainer request” or an “administrative immigration warrant.”
ICE must obtain a legal judicial warrant and show probable cause that authorizes an individual’s arrest and detention.
An ICE “detainer request” is just a piece of paper, and is not a legal warrant.
Clarkston does not want their citizens to be afraid to call the police to report crime for fear of being sent back to war torn and famine-ravaged countries.
Ten Somalis have been arrested in Clarkston, a city known internationally for being an immigrant and refugee community.
If they are sent back to their home country, they will face famine, floods, droughts, and war. It would be a death warrant.
“If you seize someone without a warrant, then you are violating their Constitutional rights and they can sue you,” Steve Quinn, the City Attorney, said in the May 02 work session.
“And if you are the City holding the person and if ICE told you to do it, that is not a legal defense… ICE takes no responsibility for their own policy,” Quinn said.
The Clarkston Non-Detainer Policy clearly states that “The City of Clarkston shall not detain or extend the detention of any individual at the request of ICE unless ICE first presents the City of Clarkston with a judicially issued warrant authorizing such detention.”
The non-detainer policy does not make Clarkston a Sanctuary City. It only requires ICE to follow the law and get a judicial warrant before arresting someone or asking local law enforcement to hold them in their city jail.
Georgia passed an extreme law of state preemption in 2009 that outlaws sanctuary cities and would withhold state funding from any local government that purports to adopt a sanctuary policy.
Quinn said his understanding of the Georgia statute on the state Sanctuary Cities policy means that if the Clarkston police department receives a call from ICE and asks a question about a certain person, the Georgia state law requires the police to communicate and cooperate with any information they have on that person and not refuse to answer.
Therefore, the Non-Detainer policy also states that “City officials and employees shall communicate and cooperate with ICE with regard to reporting immigration status information.”
Clarkston’s Non-Detainer policy is in full compliance with the Georgia law and federal law, according to several attorneys.
“There are hundreds of jurisdictions that have already passed these policies and it’s not related to Sanctuary City,” Ted Terry, Mayor of Clarkston, said during the work session.
DeKalb and Clayton Counties have had a policy on detainers for several years and recently Fayette County adopted a policy on detainers. The Fulton County Board of Commissioners has also adopted a resolution on this issue.
ICE officials had a meeting with several Clarkston Council Members the morning before the Non-Detainer vote.
At that meeting, it was reported that ICE threatened to put Clarkston on a “naughty list” if this policy was passed and that state and federal funding could be effected.
ICE was relying on an Executive Order by the Trump Administration seeking to cut federal funds to sanctuary cities, but, even if that Order were applicable here, it has since been declared unconstitutional by a U.S. District Court in California.
Federal District Court Judge William Orrick’s ruling concluded that Trump’s order undermined both federalism and separation of powers because Congress gets to decide how federal funds are spent.
“The fact that you would make a petty empty unconstitutional threat draws in question the legitimacy of the raids that you are conducting. If you are willing to threaten a legislative body of a municipality in that way, it paints a dark picture of what else you are actually doing and the matter you are going about doing it,” Mario Williams,, a Council Member, said.
“The decision from the federal court in San Francisco is important to send a strong message to the Trump Administration that they went too far, they can’t threaten localities with withdrawal of funding,” Azadeh Shahshahani, legal advocate Director for Project South, said.
“Life at these detention centers are a living nightmare and no human beings should be treated the way immigrants at these facilities are being treated. There are people who fear torture and persecution in their home countries being detained in Irwin County and Stewart County,” Shahshahani testified at the Council Meeting.
A special report from Project South inside Georgia’s Immigrant Detention Centers:
“Thanks to the Trump administration policies, we now have people from this community also detained at these detention centers,” Shahshahani concluded.