In the 2020 legislative period on Wednesday, legislation was tabled aimed at so-called “protected cities” in Georgia.
House Bill 915, sponsored by Rep. Philip Singleton, R-Sharpsburg, would force city and county law enforcement to turn undocumented detainees over to federal immigration.
Local authorities would also have to notify federal officials when a detained person is released on bail.
Singleton praised President Donald Trump’s tough stance on immigration as the inspiration for the bill.
“Radical efforts to protect criminal illegal immigrants who burden our state and our federal government and put our citizens at risk will not go unchecked in our great state,” Singleton said in a statement.
Local Latino advocates waved the bill on Wednesday, calling it a threat to Georgia’s huge immigrant workforce that powers the state’s poultry, carpet and hospitality industries.
Jerry Gonzalez, executive director of the Georgia Association of Latino Elected Officials, a nonprofit, said the move would make Georgia less safe.
“Georgia doesn’t need this legislation and it is just a distraction and scare tactic during an election year,” said Gonzalez.
Singleton’s bill would expand a 2016 Georgia law that would allow state officials to withhold funds for cities and counties that have passed guidelines to limit the exchange of information between local law enforcement agencies and U.S. immigration and customs officials.
Several local Georgia governments have adopted such guidelines in recent years, including Atlanta, Clarkston, and DeKalb Counties.
In addition to tightening coordination, Singleton’s bill would allow the Georgia Attorney General to respond to formal complaints filed by anyone – including the federal government – against these guidelines. The attorney general could bring a lawsuit to overturn the guidelines.
The law also stipulates that district and city prisons, as well as state prisons, must sign agreements with the federal government on the temporary placement and payment of the costs of housing and detention for those subject to deportation.
Singleton has already brought a handful of controversial bills since winning a special election in October. In December, he filed House Bill 747, which opponents say would forbid transgender children from participating in same-sex sporting events on public property.