Immigration law ends in Davidson Co.; locals react to Knox potential

11:11 PM, Aug 21, 2012   |    comments
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A law that would give police the power to check a suspected criminal's immigration status, and detain them if they are found to be in the country illegally, will not continue in one Middle Tennessee county in October.

Davidson County Sheriff Darrin Hall announced Tuesday he won't renew the controversial 287(g) agreement.

"We said from the beginning that we would not continue to do the program if it was not having a significant impact in this community and it was time to move on. That day has come," he said in a press conference.

In Knox County, 287(g) is not in use, but local immigrant rights supporters are relieved to hear what happened in Nashville.

"I think we can call it a 'victory'," said Miguel Carpizo, the East Tennessee organizer of the Tennessee Immigrant and Refugee Rights Coalition (TIRRC).

"It separates families. You go to work, get arrested and you never come back home," Carpizo described the program.

Knoxville State Representative Ryan Haynes (R) said 287(g) was designed to help the overwhelming illegal problem. Davidson County Sheriff Hall told WSMV-TV more than 10,000 illegal immigrants have been removed from his jurisdiction.

"It is a strain on our budgets when we have to take care of individuals in our hospitals who don't pay in our system, we have people commit crimes that we have to incarcerate," said Rep. Haynes.

He added programs, like 287(g), need major funding to move forward.

"When we're enforcing a new law, enacting a new law, it's going to cost money. If we did that here, it'll cost money so that will be the issues our locals would look at. What's this going to cost us?" Rep. Haynes said.

Knox County Potential?

Knox County Sheriff J.J. Jones told 10News in past interviews his department is currently exploring the potential use for parts of 287(g). In a July interview, he said 287(g) would train eight deputies to investigate the immigration status of inmates, but would not include deputies who patrol the streets.

On Tuesday, a KCSO spokesperson said the sheriff has not decided whether the county will opt-in. He told commission in July the federal government approved the county's application to participate in 287(g).

Currently, the department is waiting for a "memorandum of understanding," a document that states what the government expects from the initiative's use, and how it works.

Carpizo said with Davidson County pulling out from the federal program, he expected its potential here in Knox County is in question even more.

"We don't (want to) end up like Arizona, where there is so much discontentment about all the things that are happening," Carpizo said.

Sheriff Jones told 10News in the spring he will be meeting with various immigration groups about 287(g).

Carpizo says that has not happened yet for the TIRRC.

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