The following is an open letter the Republican candidates in Georgias governors race. The letter was written by Paulding County resident Jason Kitchen and is being published unedited in its entirety. Any opinions expressed are the opinion of the Author and not necessarily those of All On Georgia.
Dear Republican Governor Candidates,
I think Georgians need a little clarification on your views on illegal immigration, and the rule of law. When it comes to illegal immigration, the phrase that is often heard is, “We’re a nation of laws” or some variation of the sort. Almost every time this phrase is uttered it’s usually in reference to illegal immigration. Republicans and conservatives use this statement a lot when it seems to fit their views, policies, and when they’re running for office or re-election.
At some point all five of you have made similar statements, but Brian Kemp is the only one to state it on his website, “As Governor, our state will respect the rule of law…” Each one of you has incorporated illegal immigration into your campaign in some form. Cagle is the only one who hasn’t dedicated a portion of his website to the illegal immigration issue, but he has spent the last couple of months grandstanding.
Given the rise and popularity of Trump in the last two years, and his actions towards illegal immigration, it’s clear to understand why you’re focusing on immigration as well. Riding on President Trump’s coattails makes sense for you. Immigration is a hot button issue, and the opposition to it is popular amongst your base.
The central issue surrounding illegal immigration right now is sanctuary cities. The Center for Immigration Studies (CIS) defines sanctuary cities as, “These cities, counties, and states have laws, ordinances, regulations, resolutions, policies, or other practices that obstruct immigration enforcement and shield criminals from ICE — either by refusing to or prohibiting agencies from complying with ICE detainers, imposing unreasonable conditions on detainer acceptance, denying ICE access to interview incarcerated aliens, or otherwise impeding communication or information exchanges between their personnel and federal immigration officers.”
CIS & Trump’s administration have identified two counties in Georgia as sanctuary counties, and several other cities like Atlanta have indicated their support of sanctuary cities. Cagle has recently tussled with the city of Decatur in regards to their policies regarding sanctuary cities, and has recently made open statements to the press saying that Decatur was in violation of Georgia’s ban on sanctuary cities. The City of Decatur’s attorney has refuted this statement in a letter sent to the state auditor stating that their policy is consistent with the guidelines of the 4th amendment.
Each of you have stated your support for defunding sanctuary cities, should they come to existence in Georgia, but in this seems to be inconsistent because in 2009 Georgia passed a law banning sanctuary cities. This law is being used by Cagle as his basis for his attacks on the city of Decatur, and Cagle has recently doubled down proposing new laws that will make it harder for sanctuary cities to exist while forcing local law enforcement agencies to cooperate with Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) officials.
There seems to be some inconsistency as well in your position on illegal immigration and sanctuary cities. Immigration law, and the enforcement of it, is a federal issue as it was established in 1952 with the passage of the Immigration and Nationality Act (INA). Many states that have passed immigration laws have been challenged in courts. Some, like Arizona’s, have had portions of their laws ruled unconstitutional by the Supreme Court. Another problem that local law enforcements agencies are faced with it is that they are not legally required to work with ICE. ICE detainers have no legal binding as they are merely requests to notify ICE of the person’s pending release, and to hold the person for an additional period of time, usually 48 hours. Many of the ICE detainers have been ruled as a violation of the 4th amendment. Asking law enforcement agencies to hold a person has opened them up to liability, and has led to states being sued.
Dekalb County’s policy regarding sanctuary city states that they “[w]ill not honor an ICE detainer unless ICE first presents the sheriff’s office with a warrant or “sufficient probable cause.” Clayton County’s policy is similar as it states that they “[w]ill not honor an ICE detainer unless ICE first presents the sheriff’s office with a judicially issued warrant authorizing detention.” Both of these statements are consistent with the guidelines laid out in the 4th amendment, however, to each of you, CIS, and Trump’s administration, these policies are obstructing ICE from doing their jobs and are used to shield criminals from ICE.
Defunding a city or county in Georgia is a real possibility should any of you become governor, but why would you defund a city or county whose policies are consistent with the 4th amendment? Isn’t defunding a city, like Decatur, running roughshod over the rule of law?
It is illegal for sanctuary cities to exist in Georgia, but if a municipality decides to adopt a policy similar to Dekalb or Clayton’s, and one of you is successful in defunding it, aren’t you undermining that city’s or county’s law enforcement agencies, and the policies they have chosen to adopt?
Instead of threatening to defund sanctuary cities, each one of you should stand up and say that there’s not much you can do regarding sanctuary cities because immigration is a federal issue. You say that you stand for the rule of law, but when a municipality adopts a policy consistent with the 4th amendment, you threaten to defund it. It seems that the rule of law only applies to the issues you define as necessary to get elected.
Jason Kitchen was born and raised in Marietta, GA. He graduated from Osborne High School. He’s an ardent sports fan. He’s the father of 3 children and lives with his wife and son in Dallas, Ga