Tennessee federal lawmakers are backing the sheriff of Knox County in his efforts to get approval to run the U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement’s 287(g) program.
The program allows state and local police officers to collaborate with the federal government in enforcing immigration laws. President Trump in his executive orders on immigration said he would revitalize the program. The program is named for Section 287(g) of the Immigration and Nationality Act and became law in 1996. President Obama scaled back the program.
The Knox County Sheriff’s Office would become the only law enforcement agency in the state to be part of the 287(g) program. The Davidson County Sheriff’s Office participated in the program for several years before ending its involvement in 2012.
The Knoxville News Sentinel reports that ICE asked Knox County Sheriff Jimmy “J.J.” Jones to get letters of recommendation from Sens. Lamar Alexander and Bob Corker and Rep. John J. Duncan Jr., who all complied with the request.
The newspaper quotes Jones as saying that currently when people are arrested, their immigration status is run to see if the crime is deportable. The process can take up to three weeks at $100 a day. The 287(g) program would streamline the process to two or three days, saving the county jail space and money, Jones said.
Knox County was denied for the program in August 2013. Jones received a letter saying that ICE had frozen expansion of the program because of federal budget cuts resulting from sequestration.
There are currently 37 law enforcement agencies in 16 states with 287(g) agreements with ICE.
The Tennessee Immigrant and Refugee Rights Coalition is opposed to the program and plans a march and rally in Knoxville on May 1 to protest.
Jones has filed paperwork naming a treasurer to potentially run for Knox County mayor in May 2018. The race has already attracted pro wrestler Glenn Jacobs, who announced last week that he will run.