New Mutual Agreement between Cobb County Government and ICE approved by BOC

Pat Burns at podium during the public comments at the November 12 Cobb Board of Commissioners meeting speaking in opposition to the county's renewal of the ICE IMAGE agreementCobb resident Pat Burns opposing renewal of the county's agreement under the ICE IMAGE program (photo by Larry Felton Johnson)

The Cobb County Board of Commissioners passed a new Mutual Agreement between the County and U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) as part of their consent agenda at their Tuesday meeting.

The agreement renews Cobb County’s participation in the IMAGE program, which verifies that employees are legally allowed to work under U.S. immigration laws and policies.

During the public comment section, Cobb County resident Pat Burns spoke in opposition to the agreement.

Burns said, “Last week the President and CEO of the Georgia Chamber of Commerce, Chris Clark, hosted a diversity and inclusion summit titled ‘Courageous Conversations’. Several Cobb business people were there in attendance.”

“My jaw dropped when Mr. Clark stated that if you want to move your community forward you have to become culturally fluent and intentionally inclusive,” she said.

“The ICE agreement ignores the complexity of our county. It ignores the Chamber president’s courageous conversations,” she said. “Instead it throws under the bus the many men and women who toiled to build modern Cobb County.”

“We are the sons and daughters of immigrants who may or may not have waited in line or walked across more fluid borders back in the day,” she said.

“Some of us have associates and friends who speak against the undocumented population or who may even be involved in nativist organizations,” she said. “These are not the people I would want to share a foxhole with.”

“Don’t vote for this ICE agreement but instead move toward points of light. Move towards an intentionally inclusive and culturally fluent community,” said Burns.

Deputy Special Agent in Charge, ICE – Greater Atlanta Area, Chairman Mike Boyce, and Commissioner JoAnn Birrell at signing ceremony for the County’s renewal of IMAGE (photo provided by Cobb County)

A ceremony to sign the agreement took place in after the Board of Commissioners meeting in the 3rd floor BOC conference room, with Deputy Special Agent in Charge, ICE – Greater Atlanta Area, Chairman Mike Boyce, and Commissioner JoAnn Birrell seated at the table.

After the BOC meeting, District 4 Commissioner Lisa Cupid was asked by the Courier to expand on comments she made during the meeting about the role of the IMAGE program.

“Our participation in the IMAGE program is internal to the county’s HR processes, where they review documentation of employees to insure that they’re working lawfully here in the United States,” she said.

“This is not a program that impacts our surrounding community, and this is something that we renewed that was instituted in years past, and there were some concerns about those working on a county facility,” she said.

“I hope to allay any fear that the public may have that our approval of today’s agenda was a program that limits the inclusivity or cultural sensitivity of the county,” said Cupid.