Councilman Gary Anderson asked the city attorney for an update on whether the city had an ordinance allowing law enforcement to deport illegal immigrants living within the city.
Anderson first raised the topic at a meeting on Dec. 10, when the council voted to request Donnie Hunt, city attorney, look into the matter.
"The intent of the motion was to see if there was an ordinance the city could pass to deport suspected illegal aliens if stopped by police and found to be illegal," Anderson said. "(Hall County) may already be doing what I hoped we could do."
The Hall County Sheriff’s Office has implemented 287(g), a program that checks the immigration status of everyone booked into Hall County jail. If an arrested person is deemed an illegal immigrant, deportation proceedings could be enacted.
Hunt said he researched state and federal laws regarding cities and the deportation of illegal immigrants.
He said a bill the U.S. House of Representatives passed in 2005 — H.R. Bill 4437, called the Border Protection, Antiterrorism and Illegal Immigration Control Act of 2005 — could have funded and empowered cities in their efforts to deport illegal immigrants if the bill had reached the U.S. Senate before the 109th Congressional term expired. Hunt said a revived version of the same bill now sits in the judiciary committee.
Anderson and other council members agreed to ask Hunt to request that Hall County Sheriff Steve Cronic or a sheriff’s deputy educated on 287(g) attend an Oakwood City Council meeting to determine whether the program allows the Oakwood Police Department to begin deportation proceedings on arrested people determined to be illegal immigrants.
Also, the City Council unanimously voted to authorize City Manager Stan Brown to negotiate and contract about $500,000 in professional engineering and consulting services for the city’s Oakwood 2030 Project.
The project will construct a downtown area in Oakwood. Brown said the exact location of the project is yet to be determined, but the downtown area will offer shopping, dining, residential and commercial office opportunities for residents.
Brown said Rosser International, B+C Studio, LandTec, Rochester and Associates and Clough Harbour And Associates LLP will be contracted to apply the concepts of the downtown project the city has been developing since last fall. The companies will provide more details on project plans for sewer, transportation and property development.
"This is basically more detailed planning work to prepare for this fall, when we’ll have a plan we can present to the public," Brown said.
"We’re looking at upwards of $50 million of infrastructure — and not all city money. We’re looking to do public-private partnerships as much as possible."