Mayor signs executive order to remove ICE detainees from city jail

ATLANTA — Mayor Keisha Lance Bottoms on Thursday signed an executive order calling for all remaining U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement detainees to be transferred out of the city jail as soon as possible and declaring that Atlanta will no longer hold anyone for the federal agency.

Her move follows a separate executive order from June that blocked the jail from taking in any new ICE detainees amid enforcement of the Trump administration’s “zero tolerance” policy, which split up many immigrant families on the southwest border. Bottoms has vigorously objected to that federal policy, saying, “As a country, we are better than this.”

There were just five ICE detainees in the Atlanta City Detention Center as of Wednesday, down from 205 in June. The number has fallen as ICE has released some, deported others and transported some to its other detention centers across the state.


“Atlanta will no longer be complicit in a policy that intentionally inflicts misery on a vulnerable population,” Bottoms said at a City Hall news conference moments before signing her executive order. “As the birthplace of the civil rights movement we are called to be better than this.”

Channel 2's Lori Wilson spoke to Linda Cordosa, who grew up in Georgia undocumented until she was in high school. Her 2-week-old daughter was on her mind as she got emotional, addressing the order.

"Being able to stand next to Mayor Bottoms today, during this critical moment, it really brought a lot of tears to my eyes and everything that it has meant in the trajectory of my life," she said. "Until we can guarantee that we're treating people humanely and we're not separating families at the border, we can't be complicit in the practice of detaining immigrants for ICE."

Atlanta is paid $78 a day for each ICE detainee it holds in the jail through a contract with the U.S. Marshals Service, collecting $7.5 million through this arrangement for this fiscal year, as of June. That is more than a fifth of the jail’s annual $33 million budget. City officials added the Atlanta jail will continue to hold detainees for other federal agencies.