*Updated with a correction on year of original passage of OCGA 36-80-23.
“I do solemnly swear or affirm that I will faithfully execute the office of Governor of the State of Georgia and will, to the best of my ability, preserve, protect, and defend the Constitution thereof and the Constitution of the United States.”
Oath of office made by Governor Brian Kemp last week – for the second time.
My January 2nd column concerned state laws that are not enforced. We reminded readers that Gov. Brian Kemp took an oath to obey the constitution and quoted part of that document with “the Governor shall take care that the laws are faithfully executed and shall be the conservator of the peace throughout the state.”
As an illustration of one law dealing with illegal immigration that is defiantly ignored, we explained that at his January 1, 2021, swearing in ceremony, Keybo Taylor, the sheriff of Gwinnett County here in Metro Atlanta, told the world “One thing we will not be doing is notifying ICE of anybody’s immigration status in the jail or any of our facilities.”
Then we explained a state law (OCGA 42-4-14) that requires all jailers to use reasonable effort to determine immigration status of foreign-born prisoners and report the illegal aliens to the feds. It’s a state law that Brian Kemp voted for as a state senator.
What I didn’t mention is that the above state law has no penalty in the text of the law.
That is correct. It’s a law with no penalty – don’t scramble to the law books to find one that does not have a penalty for normal, working Georgians.
This writer was involved in the drafting of the law in 2006 and a significant legislative improvement in 2011. I can tell you that none of us dreamed that “jailers” – mostly county sheriffs – would defy that statute. That was then. Now we know. It looks like the Gwinnett sheriff is not the only one ignoring this law.
You will probably read this here first: I can predict with a great deal of confidence that the current General Assembly session in Atlanta will see a bill that would create a stiff penalty for jailers like Gwinnett’s anti-enforcement, Democrat sheriff.
But wait, there’s more.
As I wrote earlier in the month, Georgia can accurately be described as a “sanctuary state” for the “criminal illegals” Kemp promised to go after when he ran for office in 2018 and pledged to end already illegal sanctuary policies.
This brings up another state law that we need to share here. It’s OCGA 36-80-23 with a title that goes: “Prohibition on immigration sanctuary policies by local governmental entities; certification of compliance.” I am proud to have helped with advice on this legislation when it passed the Republican-ruled state senate by a vote of
37-9 in 2010 . *Correction. Jan. 17, 2023 11:02AM – This law was passed in 2008 as SB 340. The Senate vote was 47-5. The vote in the House was 129-32. I apologize for the error. dak
The short version of this one is that it is illegal for counties, cities, and agencies, including law enforcement agencies, to put in place “sanctuary policies.”
“Sanctuary” in Georgia law
According to state law, “sanctuary policy” means “any regulation, rule, policy, or practice adopted by a local governing body which prohibits or restricts local officials or employees from communicating or cooperating with federal officials or law enforcement officers with regard to reporting immigration status information while such local official or employee is acting within the scope of his or her official duties.” Pretty clear, we thought.
The enforcement mechanism goes like this: “Any local governing body that acts in violation of this Code section shall be subject to the withholding of state funding or state administered federal funding…” The “governing body” in Gwinnett is the Gwinnett County Board of Commissioners.
How would the various state agencies that administer tax dollars as grants to cities and counties know if those cities and counties were in violation of the law? They don’t know, but the funds are distributed anyway. So, there really is no penalty. This one isn’t enforced either.
I wouldn’t be surprised to see a bill that injects a severe penalty into this toothless “no sanctuary policies in Georgia” law too.
Again: Georgia is a sanctuary state because illegal aliens can go into and out of many of our jails and never be reported to the feds. It’s a bit of California right here in the Peach State. If you want to see action from your state legislators on this, it is a good idea to let them hear from you.
Let’s close with a quote from Brian Kemp’s first TV campaign ad in 2018: “Donald Trump was right. We must secure the border and end sanctuary cities.”
You can see the video from that TV ad on our website, ImmigrationPoliticsGA.com.
- A version of the below column is published in the January 16, 2023, edition of The Islander newspaper in Glynn County, GA.