Eleven Mayor and Commission Candidates Issue Statement Opposing Cooperation with ICE by Sheriff’s Office


Eleven Mayor and Commission Candidates Issue Statement Opposing Cooperation with ICE by Sheriff’s Office

ATHENS, GA - March 5, 2018 -- Athens Immigrant Rights Coalition and Athens for Everyone are excited to announce that eleven candidates for the Athens-Clarke County Mayor & Commission have issued a joint statement urging the Clarke County Sheriff's Office to overturn their policy of cooperating with ICE (Immigration & Customs Enforcement) in the effort to detain and deport people based on their immigration status. The signing candidates cover the Mayor’s race and all six Commision seats up for election on May 22nd. They are: for Mayor, Kelly Girtz, Richie Knight, and Antwon Stephens; for District 1, Patrick Davenport; for District 2, Mariah Parker; for District 3, Melissa Link and Tony Eubanks; for District 5, Tim Denson; for District 7, Russell Edwards; and for District 9, Ovita Thornton and Tommy Valentine.

The full text of the statement:

“As candidates and elected officials for the Athens-Clarke County Mayor & Commission, we strongly believe in creating a safe and inclusive community for all who live here. To that end, we wish to show our unity in opposition to the Sheriff’s Office’s policy of voluntary cooperation with Immigration & Customs Enforcement (ICE), implemented in July 2017. This policy of honoring ICE detainer requests breaks up Athenian families, opens the county to costly lawsuits, and erodes trust in law enforcement. We urge the Sheriff’s Office to make our community safer, ease our children’s fear, and protect our government from legal action by reversing this policy of voluntary cooperation.”

Kelly Girtz, candidate for Mayor
Richie Knight, candidate for Mayor
Antwon Stephens, candidate for Mayor
Patrick Davenport, candidate for District 1 Commissioner
Mariah Parker, candidate for District 2 Commissioner
Melissa Link, candidate for District 3 Commissioner
Tony Eubanks, candidate for District 3 Commissioner
Tim Denson, candidate for District 5 Commissioner
Russell Edwards, candidate for District 7 Commissioner
Ovita Thornton, candidate for District 9 Commissioner
Tommy Valentine, candidate for District 9 Commissioner

In July of 2017, the Athens community became aware that the Sheriff is voluntarily collaborating with ICE by holding persons without a warrant, using a “detainer request”. Detainer requests are not judicial warrants. They are requests from ICE, asking local law enforcement to hold for 48 hours anyone without documentation, so ICE can take them and start deportation proceedings. While ICE officers claim to make communities safe, the reality of their work is very different. ICE is an agency dedicated to detaining and deporting 100% of immigrants who do not have, and are often unable to get, legal status in the U.S. The agency routinely separates families from their children, many of whom are citizens, and destroys lives of people with deep ties to our community.

The AIRC and A4E, along with other community members of Athens, demand that the Sheriff reverse this voluntary policy. Unfortunately, the Sheriff continues to insist on framing discussions of immigration through the false rhetoric of crime and terrorism. Considering the fact that immigrants are less likely to commit violent crimes than native-born citizens, we understand the Sheriff’s rhetoric to be deeply misleading and harmful. We applaud candidates and officials who take a stand against ICE, to keep our community safe from those who would see them detained and deported.


Athens Immigrants Respond to Trump's 'Shithole Countries' Comment

AIRC in the news:

The Athens Immigrant Rights Coalition has been working to overturn “Juan Crow” laws here in the state of Georgia and are not giving up after Trump’s comments. The group wrote in a statement to Flagpole: “[We believe] it is when we come together from a diverse set of races and nationalities that we are truly great. We will continue our work to fight the local reach of this harmful rhetoric, starting with our continued campaign against the Sheriff's misguided decision to collaborate with ICE officers.”

See whole article here: 





ATHENS, GA. (October 10, 2017) – LatinxFest, an annual celebration of the cultural heritage and economic impact of the local Hispanic/Latinx community in and around Athens, will take place on Saturday, October 21, 2017 at the Creature Comforts brewery in downtown Athens. Between 1-5 p.m., attendees will be treated to a curated array of live music, regional and traditional dancing, food, kid’s activities and more. The event is free and open to the entire family.

The festival began as a small neighborhood celebration in 2010 by Dignidad de Inmigrante en Athens (Dignity for Immigrants in Athens), a local organization created by and for the local immigrant community. Since the beginning, the organizers have made a conscious effort to ensure that the event reflects the diversity of the local population of Latin American descent. This year is no exception: the event name is now written with an “x” (LatinxFest) to signal a welcome to individuals of all gender identities, and features a diverse line up of performances that includes*:

•    AkllaSumaq (Peruvian folk dancing, adults and children)
•    Canopy Outreach Programming
•    Chupaskabras
•    Corridos El Único Plebe (Mexican regional music)
•    Danza Azteca del Señor San José (Aztec dance)
•    El Ronco de Reinosa
•    Incatepec (music inspired by the sounds from the Andean region)
•    María Sandoval
•    SalsaAthens (casino rueda style of salsa dancing)
•    Sara Zúñiga
•    Tonalli Danza Folklórica Mexicana (Mexican folkloric dancing)

At 2:30 p.m., the organizing committee will hold a special recognition for allies who have stood in solidarity with the local immigrant community over the years, including, Andre Gallan
Alejandra Calva,Yolanda Machado, Tamar June, Melissa Perez, Betina Kaplan, Pepe Casas and Yolanda Avila . Non-profit organizations like U-Lead Athens, the Athens Immigrant Rights Coalition (AIRC), and the Athens Latino Center for Education and Services.

There is no cost to attend LatinxFest 2017, but donations will be collected to benefit, DIA and AIRC.
“We welcome all Athenians to join us in this celebration of diversity, and to help us recognize the cultural, social and economic impact that the local Latinx community has on our county. We truly believe that sharing in music, dance and food, can help form and strengthen our bonds with each other,” said Beto Mendoza, local activist and producer of LatinxFest.

LatinxFest 2017 is presented by Dignidad de Inmigrantes en Athens and the Athens Immigrant Rights Coalition. It is sponsored by Creature Comforts brewery, Costa de Jalisco, Los Compadres, Agua Linda, Big Family Café, The National, Ted’s Most Best, Pulaski Heights BBQ, Normal Bar, La Estrella, La Parrilla, La Pasadita, Ignition Pro, Pollería Pablo, El Primo Auto Sale, Dyana’s, Oconee Street Methodist Church, Los Amigos, Sandra’s hair Salon, La Superior, UUFA, El Camino Real, and Flagpole.

For more information about LatinxFest, contact the organizers via dignidadinmigrante@gmail.com, visithttps://incatepec.wixsite.com/latinxfest or https://www.facebook.com/events/2049059115328560.

*Performers and participants subject to change

About LatinxFest
LatinxFest is an annual event curated to give witness to and celebrate the cultural contributions of the immigrant community in the greater Athens area. For more information, contact the organizers viadignidadinmigrante@gmail.com.

Local Educators Organize Forum on Creating Welcoming Schools for Immigrant Students and Their Families

A forum on Creating Welcoming Schools for Immigrant Families will be held at the Athens Clarke County Public Library (2025 Baxter St, Athens, GA 30606) from 10am-2pm on Saturday, September 9th, 2017. This collaborative event, organized by local educators, is sponsored by the Athens Immigrant Rights Coalition (AIRC) and Georgia Teachers of English to Speakers of Other Languages (GATESOL).

Vigil for Undocumented Youth

Today, the Trump administration rescinded the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) program that benefits immigrant youth. 

Join the Athens Immigrant Rights Coalition, Dignidad Inmigrante en Athens, and U-Lead Athens as we express our support for and solidarity with undocumented youth and the undocumented community. 

Meet at UGA Arch at 5:30 today. Bring candles, signs, and your voice!