Legislation taking aim at so-called “sanctuary cities” in Georgia was filed in the 2020 legislative session Wednesday.
Sponsored by Rep. Philip Singleton, R-Sharpsburg, House Bill 915 would force city and county law enforcement agencies to hand over detained undocumented persons to federal immigration authorities.
Local agencies would also have to notify federal officials when a detained person is being released from custody on bail.
Singleton credited President Donald Trump’s hardline stance on immigration as inspiration for the bill.
“Radical efforts to protect criminal illegal immigrants, which burden our state and federal government, and put our citizens in danger, will not be unchecked in our great state,” Singleton said in a statement.
Local Latino advocates panned the bill Wednesday, calling it a threat to Georgia’s huge immigrant workforce that drives the state’s poultry, carpet and hospitality industries.
Jerry Gonzalez, executive director of the nonprofit Georgia Association of Latino Elected Officials, said the measure would make Georgia less safe.
“Georgia does not need this legislation, and it is simply aimed as a distraction and fear mongering during an election year,” Gonzalez said.
Singleton’s bill would broaden a Georgia law enacted in 2016 that allows state officials to withhold funding to cities and counties that have adopted policies of limiting information shared between local police agencies and U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement.
Several local governments in Georgia have adopted such policies in recent years including Atlanta, Clarkston and DeKalb County.
Beyond tightening coordination, Singleton’s bill would allow the Georgia attorney general’s office to act on formal complaints filed by anyone – including the federal government – against those policies. The attorney general could bring suit to have the policies overturned.
The bill would also require county and city jails and state prisons to sign agreements with the federal government “for temporarily housing persons” facing deportation and “for the payment of the costs of housing and detaining those persons.”
Singleton has already brought a handful of contentious bills since winning a special election in October. In December, he filed House Bill 747, which opponents say would prohibit transgender children from competing in same-sex sporting events on public property.