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Breitbart: Exclusive–O’Brien: Emails Reveal Athens Mayor Saw Laken Riley’s Murder as a PR Problem

  |   By Polling+ Staff

(Photo/Landen Todd @whats_landophoto)

Exclusive–O’Brien: Emails Reveal Athens Mayor Saw Laken Riley’s Murder as a PR Problem

What the Mayor of Athens, Georgia was really thinking in the aftermath of Laken Riley’s murder.  The exclusive story reports:

“In the wake of Laken Riley’s murder in Georgia, Athens-Clarke County Mayor Kelly Girtz condescendingly dismissed suggestions from the public and media that his county’s refusal to cooperate with U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) may have been a contributing factor.

He also insisted that Athens-Clarke County is not a sanctuary jurisdiction, stating, “The term ‘sanctuary city’ doesn’t have a sole legal or procedural definition. That term means different things to different people, depending on the context of the discussion.”

Actually, the term “sanctuary city” doesn’t have any legal or procedural definition. Under the Supremacy Clause of the 10th Amendment, “The powers not delegated to the United States by the Constitution, nor prohibited by it to the States, are reserved to the States respectively, or to the people.” The Constitution delegates the powers to establish a uniform rule of naturalization, manage immigration and control our borders to the Federal Government. If a state disapproves of some aspect of immigration law, it may ask its representatives in Congress to change it – but it cannot unilaterally ignore that law or actively impede federal efforts to enforce it. evertheless, for some time now, Athens-Clarke County has refused to honor requests that it hold criminal aliens for pick-up by ICE. So, despite Mayor Girtz’s claims to the contrary, it is a de facto sanctuary jurisdiction whether it has passed an ordinance to that effect or not.

Girtz’s semantic tap dancing, coupled with the fact that he seemed more concerned about not offending illegal aliens than he was about a ruthless assault on a young woman in his district, made the Immigration Reform Law Institute (IRLI) curious about what Girtz and his colleagues might be saying behind closed doors.

Through a Georgia Open Records Act request, we obtained a February 24, 2024 email exchange between Clarke County Sheriff John Q. Williams and Girtz. This exchange, sent two days after Laken Riley was murdered, is shocking.

Sheriff Williams contacted Mayor Girtz asking whether the county he is responsible for protecting is a “sanctuary” jurisdiction. But it gets worse. Sheriff Williams then threatens that if the Athens-Clarke County Government would not address the county’s refusal to cooperate with ICE, he “will do everything in [his] power to protect the integrity and professionalism of the Clarke County Sheriff’s Office and [himself].”

The fact that Sheriff Williams seems more interested in covering his posterior than anything else is appalling on its own. But the fact that he appears to have had absolutely no idea about his own department’s policies regarding cooperation with federal immigration authorities raises serious questions about his ability to manage the operations of a law enforcement agency that serves upwards of 120,000 people.

Moreover, the Clarke County Sheriff’s Office website lists information for inmate mail, visits, etc. in both English and Spanish. If Sheriff Williams’ jail has that many Spanish-speaking inmates, then at least a percentage of them are likely to be foreign nationals sought by ICE, and there is absolutely no excuse for his professed ignorance about sanctuary shenanigans.

What should raise even more questions, however, is the fact the it never occurred to Sheriff Williams that the best way to protect the integrity of his agency would be to follow the law, thereby allowing ICE to do its job and remove criminal aliens.

Mayor Girtz’s response is even more troubling. He notes that Williams’ predecessor refused to honor ICE detainers and praises non-cooperation policies, saying, “I support the detainer policy as one that is both humane and following the well-documented propensity of immigrants in the U.S. to be less criminally inclined than the native-born population.”

It’s bad enough that Mayor Girtz is in favor of ignoring federal laws he doesn’t like. But it seems that his willingness to do so is based on the mistaken belief that illegal aliens are generally more law abiding than Americans. There’s a problem with that reasoning, however. By definition, all illegal aliens begin their relationship with the United States by breaking the law.

Then, to cap off this demonstration of lawlessness and incompetence, Mayor Girtz says that his “takeaway” from Laken Riley’s murder is, “in the immediate wake of a tragedy to focus on the victim…avoid political messaging…focus on comfort and unity.”

To Kelly Girtz, the savage killing of a college student is a public relations problem. And it’s a public relations problem that one should manage with by sowing “comfort and unity” – not by arresting and deporting foreign law breakers.

One wonders how “comfortable” Laken Riley’s parents are with the fact that Athens-Clarke County is being run by an anti-borders extremist who seems to care more about the reputation of the migrant community than the life of their U.S. citizen daughter.

Who ever thought that Americans would live to see a day when they have as much to fear from their elected leaders as they do from common street thugs?”

The “sanctuary city” obsession strikes again – a mere two days after Laken Riley’s vicious murder no less.

Matt O’Brien is the Director of Investigations at the Immigration Reform Law Institute and the co-host of IRLI’s podcast “No Border, No Country.” Immediately prior to working for IRLI he served as an immigration judge. He has nearly 30 years of experience in immigration law and policy, having held numerous positions within the Department of Homeland Security.