Knox County approved for enforcing fed immigration laws through 287(g) program

U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement has approved Knox County’s participation in the controversial 287(g) program, reports the News Sentinel.

The two bodies signed a memorandum of agreement earlier this month that dictates the Knox County Sheriff’s Office’s responsibilities in training and allowing a certain number of local deputies to be acting ICE agents. It makes Knox County the only jurisdiction in the state participating in this federal program.

The program deputizes local law enforcement officials to act on behalf of and in place of federal immigration authorities in exchange for training and funding.

Once someone has been arrested on federal, state or local charges, ICE will flag the individual for removal and decide to request a detainer, or hold, on the person. The 287(g) program allows local law enforcement to decide who goes into deportation proceedings. A federal immigration judge ultimately decides who will be deported.

ICE places detainers on undocumented immigrants who have been arrested on local criminal charges and for whom ICE has probable cause to believe should be removed from the United States, according to an ICE spokesperson. The detainers are put in place so ICE can take custody of the individual when he or she is released from local custody.

Knox County Sheriff Jimmy “J.J.” Jones recently announced he was withdrawing his candidacy for mayor. He is term limited as sheriff. His final day in office is Aug. 31, 2018.

Jones has said the program would be used to help reduce the county’s jail population and to save the county money by holding undocumented immigrant inmates for less time, but the county’s application stated the reason for joining ICE was to fight illegal immigration.

The application also estimates the 287(g) program will allow the county to process and turn in up to 1,800 immigrants who are living in the country illegally to ICE a year.

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Former Knoxville News Sentinel capitol bureau chief Tom Humphrey writes about Tennessee politics, government, and legislative news.
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