KNOXVILLE, Tenn. (WVLT/AP) Knox Co. Sheriff Jimmy "J.J." Jones responded to the U.S. Customs and Immigration Enforcement (ICE) decision on the county's participation in its 287(g) program. According to ICE, it sent Jones a letter informing him they were denying the agreement.
In a statement posted on the Sheriff's Office's website (here), Jones accused the federal government of using the sequester "as a smokescreen to shirk its responsibilities."
The Tennessee Immigration and Refugee Rights obtained a copy of the letter. In it, ICE apparently rejected the application because of resource concerns, including a lack of funding.
Congress reduced funding for the so-called 287(g) program this past year. It is essentially being phased out for a fingerprint-sharing program, called Secure Communities.
"An inept administration is clearing the way for law breaking illegal immigrants to continue to thrive in our community and ultimately be allowed to reside in the United States," he continued.
"If need be, I will stack these violators like cordwood in the Knox County Jail until the appropriate federal agency responds.”
The 287(g) program allows state and local law enforcement agencies to enter into a partnership with ICE in which specially trained officers may perform immigration law enforcement functions, the federal agency explains on its website (link).
ICE will provide qualifying officers within selected agencies with 4 weeks of specialized training in Charleston, S.C. with certified instructors. They will also supervise them when they perform their immigration duties. How much each agency and its officers are allowed to do is laid out in a Memorandum of Agreement that is signed when an agency is accepted.
The agency called it "one of its top partnership initiatives." It currently has agreements with 26 agencies.
The ACLU of Tennessee also issued a statement applauding the decision. The civil rights organization though said it had objected to the county's application based on how Davidson Co. handled its 287(g) program.
The ACLU claimed that county, which includes Nashville, focused on deporting immigrants without regard for due process, "leading to immigrants living in fear and distrust of law enforcement, reluctant to report crimes they experienced or witnessed."