Atlanta city officials spar over immigrant initiative

The Atlanta city council stepped into the national debate about undocumented immigrants. But they did not do it purposely.

The administration of Mayor Keisha Lance Bottoms brought to them legislation that calls for court officials at the municipal court to represent in federal court individuals in jeopardy of being deported. 

Councilman Howard Shook question whether the plan is an overreach. Shook asked about past requests from the public defender's office for additional attorneys just to take care of routine business at the Atlanta court. 

"I remember at budget time, you all coming up to the table with your pants pockets out," Shook told a group of attorneys who came before the public safety panel. 

For a legal specialist tapped to assist the immigrants, a budget of $200,000 has been requested.  Other council members questioned why the city is so ready to get involved with a completely different jurisdiction -- the federal immigration court. 

Shook determined there were two many questions about the plan and requested the paper be held. 

But the legislation got voted up, and will proceed now to the full council for approval.