On April 7, 2017, Nashville activist pro-illegal immigration lawyers Elliot Ozment, J. Gerard Stranch, IV, Tricia Herzfeld and Anthony Orlandi, sued Metro Nashville, Davidson County and Sheriff Daron Hall, on behalf of Saudi national Abdullah Abriq, who overstayed his student visa, and “hundred and likely thousands of immigrants” subject to detainer requests issued by Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) and that “[u]pon information and belief, the Defendants have taken custody of, and detained, thousands of Administrative Detainees over the past five years.”
ICE has the responsibility and authority to detain foreign nationals who overstay their visas and those who have entered the U.S. illegally even if they have not committed a criminal offense.
So far in fiscal year 2017, thirty-seven percent of immigration offenders adjudicated in immigration court involving either simple immigration violations and/or a criminal offense, have been allowed to remain in Tennessee. Of cases where the judge permits the offender to remain, over 1,000 of the cases involve immigration violations while sixteen are classified as “criminal/national security/terror.”
Abriq’s lawsuit alleges that without a valid agreement with ICE, Nashville’s Sheriff Daron Hall has no authority to comply with ICE detainer requests and as a result, violated the plaintiffs’ Fourth and Fourteenth constitutional rights. In 2012, attorney Ozment filed a similar suit against Maury County and General Sessions Judge Bobby Sands alleging that the county sheriff’s department cannot “investigate, apprehend or detain suspected illegal immigrants absent a formal partnership with ICE.” In that case, the illegal immigrant had been arrested for driving with a suspended license, and again, Ozment tried to create a class action suit that if won, would result in a de facto amnesty, allowing illegal criminal and non-criminal aliens to remain in Tennessee communities.
Attorney Herzfeld, a former TN-ACLU lawyer, joined Ozment’s firm in 2012 but moved to the Branstetter group in 2016, omitting her employment with Ozment from her new firm’s on-line biography. Herzfeld does, however, list her membership in the open borders promoting National Immigration Project of the National Lawyers Guild, a group funded, in part by George Soros’ Open Society Foundation.
In their zeal to enable criminal and non-criminal illegal aliens to remain in Tennessee communities, the lawyers are ignoring a federal law which even in the absence of a written agreement:
authorizes state and local governments to cooperate with the [Secretary of Homeland Security] in the identification, apprehension, detention, or removal of aliens not lawfully present in the United States.
In Metro Nashville’s filing to dismiss Abriq’s lawsuit, they point out that Tennessee law gives Sheriff Daron Hall “broad general powers, specifically including the power to ‘take charge and custody of the jail of the sheriff’s county, and the of the prisoners therein; receive those lawfully committed and keep them personally…until discharged by law.'”
They also cite two Middle Tennessee court decisions that “have held that a county Sheriff must comply with an ICE detainer.” Both lawsuits were filed by the Ozment firm.
One issue the parties seem to agree on, however, is that Metro Nashville’s written 287(g) agreement with ICE has expired. This program authorizes specially trained local law enforcement officers, supervised by ICE, to perform certain pre-custodial immigration law enforcement functions. Not having this written agreement, does not, however effect compliance with ICE detainers.
Sheriff Hall initiated Nashville’s participation in the 287(g) program in 2007, and during that first year, his office processed 3,500 illegal immigrants for removal, most of whom were convicted on misdemeanor charges. However, 700 of the illegal aliens “were arrested for at least one serious crime such as homicide, robbery, aggravated assault or burglary.”
In 2009, out of forty Metro Council members, Megan Barry was one of three council members who voted against extending Nashville’s participation in the 287(g) program. Megan Barry carefully couches her support for illegal immigration in terms of not separating families, which is really just a de facto amnesty.
As of this year, the sheriff’s office says it will continue to cooperate with ICE. Whether trying to appease a progressive, open borders mayor, questioning the Trump administration’s position with regard to illegal immigration, or trying to balance the two with his duty to public safety, Sheriff Hall has said that if the number of detainer requests increases “dramatically,” he will “re-evaluate his office’s involvement.”