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The Reed Administration's Response to Bill Torpy's November 20 Column in the Atlanta Journal-Constitution

Post Date:11/21/2017 6:11 PM

  Mayor’s Office of Communications
55 Trinity Avenue, Suite 2500 • Atlanta, Georgia 30303

Anne Torres, Director
404-330-6423, office
404-904-2618, cell
amtorres@atlantaga.gov

Jenna Garland, Press Secretary
404-330-6612, office
404-357-5579, cell
jgarland@atlantaga.gov

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE: November 21, 2017

 News Release

The Reed Administration's Response to Bill Torpy's November 20 Column in the Atlanta Journal-Constitution

Statement from Tom Sabulis

ATLANTA - “In his Monday, November 21 column for the Atlanta Journal-Constitution, Bill Torpy has again set aside a serious discussion of policy and issues in favor of attacking his favorite target, Mayor Kasim Reed.

His column, entitled ‘Immigrant boasts are hypocritical,’ demonstrates at best a failure to understand complex issues, and at worst, a cynical attempt to boost his preferred candidate for Mayor – Mary Norwood – by making a false attack against Mayor Reed’s progressive stance on immigration.

For the past year, the AJC has made a habit of first running a news piece, then following it up with a negative column in a one-two punch. The paper has done this in a deliberate and strategic fashion to try and diminish Mayor Reed’s popularity among voters in his final year in office, and thereby limit the impact of his endorsement in the Mayor’s race. AJC reporter Jeremy Redmon wrote a long news story about the City’s participation in the Safe Cities Network; two days later, Bill Torpy follows with a column tarnishing an important and necessary new program – and by extension, the genuine concern many people have for vulnerable immigrant communities.

Atlanta is indisputably the most progressive major city in the State of Georgia and the Southeast region. Mayor Reed is recognized as a national leader for his support for immigrants and foreign-born residents. He is a member of multiple coalitions advocating for federal immigration reform; he joined thousands of demonstrators at Hartsfield-Jackson Atlanta International Airport earlier this year when the President issued his executive order to block immigrants from certain countries. Mayor Reed, along with dozens of volunteer attorneys, stayed up all night to ensure that immigrants in federal custody were able to leave the airport and join their families.

Nearly three years ago, Mayor Reed established the Welcoming Atlanta Advisory Group, which includes some of the state’s most effective and knowledgeable immigration advocates. One of the recommendations of this group was to establish the Mayor’s Office of Immigrant Affairs, which Mayor Reed did in 2015. Our Welcoming Atlanta work has attracted national recognition; in March 2016, President Obama selected the City of Atlanta to host one of its Regional Convenings on New Americans. Through the Advisory Group, the Regional Convening and our participation in national coalitions, the Mayor and his senior team have been privileged to have conversations with individuals with direct expertise in federal immigration detention and deportation defense.

It was the City’s ongoing conversations with these individuals, as well as numerous organizations that led us to apply for the Vera Institute of Justice’s Safe Cities Network, which officially launched two weeks ago. As Mayor Reed said in his statement, we are proud to join the network and offer legal resources to immigrants facing deportation for the first time in our city’s history.

But Bill Torpy, in a never-ending quest for more clicks and page views, will ignore these facts and instead run sensational headlines and hit pieces against a popular two-term Mayor. In fact, this is his 45th column about the Mayor in three years.

Torpy uses this important and sensitive topic to try and earn some progressive bonafides – notice his disingenuous mention of the bike lanes. But if Torpy was interested in playing fair, he would have quoted people who have a deep knowledge of immigration issues and not just activists who set up the City as a bogeyman. Notice how Torpy manages to find his own critics, yet doesn’t bother to quote anyone who might have an opinion supporting the City’s practices.

Someone like Charles Kuck, for instance. A nationally known immigration attorney in Atlanta, Kuck said this after reading Torpy’s column: ‘The unfortunate truth is that when an individual is detained by ICE they will have to be held somewhere. I would much rather have my clients be detained at the Atlanta City Detention Center than at Irwin or Stewart. It makes my ability to serve as an attorney easier. I also know that the conditions are better for my clients.’

He didn’t stop there. Kuck wrote, ‘Torpy completely fails to acknowledge the tremendous benefit of a free representation program for immigrants and the innovative work Mayor Reed has done throughout his administration in support of Atlanta immigrants.’

These are real, practical concerns for immigrants and their families. And Torpy dimisses them out of hand.

On Twitter, Ted Terry, Mayor of Clarkston, GA, a famous resource community for immigrants, wrote: ‘(Mayor Reed) has been an inspiration to other Mayors to step up and support our new Americans and immigrants.’

As the head of the dominant economic and cultural engine in the Southeast, Mayor Reed is determined to use the full force of that position to lead with policies that uphold and enhance the civil rights of all our residents.

Here are some examples of City of Atlanta’s impressive track record on immigration under Mayor Reed:

  • Mayor Reed co-authored an amicus brief to the Supreme Court with Mayor Eric Garcetti, of Los Angeles, and Mayor Bill DeBlasio, of New York, in support of President Obama’s immigration reforms;
  • Created a multi-cultural liaison unit with the Atlanta Police Department with the ability to serve constituents in 11 different languages;
  • Increased access to citizenship through the addition of 22 information corners throughout the City, partnered on citizenship clinics, and provided New American Opportunity grants to assist those who face financial barriers to citizenship;
  • Doubled down on Atlanta being a Welcoming City and established Atlanta as a place where all refugees are welcome despite the attempted moratorium on Syrian refugees;
  • Expanded the EBO program to include Latin and Asian business owners;
  • Created a Language Access Task Force comprised of 19 City agencies to develop a plan so that all residents are served equally regardless of the language they speak.
  • Expanded the financial literacy and civics classes to immigrants.

Atlanta is a city that historically has stood up for the civil and human rights of everybody. We will never waver, nor falter, in our commitment to inclusivity and diversity. This is our position, regardless of whether Bill Torpy understands it and appreciates it.”

###

For more information about the City of Atlanta, please visit http://www.atlantaga.gov or watch City Channel 26. Follow the City of Atlanta on Facebook and Twitter @CityofAtlanta. Follow Mayor Reed on Facebook and Twitter @Kasim Reed

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