Sheriff Dept. Starts Training For Immigration Enforcement
Sweeping changes are on the way to the Davidson County criminal justice system as law enforcement agents deal with undocumented immigrants.
Fifteen deputies began training Tuesday morning in what's called the 287(G) program.
Davidson County Sheriff Daron Hall said they had no way to check federal databases about criminal immigrants until the plan went into effect.
Police said Gustavo Reyes Garcia, an undocumented immigrant, was driving drunk when he killed a Mt. Juliet couple last June in Lakewood. They also said Garcia should have been deported instead of driving on Middle Tennessee highways.
"Come to find out not only was the person illegal...he's been arrested three months before that and 11 other times. Had we had this information we don't believe that person would have been set free and driving around Nashville," Hall said.
Hall said the Garcia case was one catalyst for his push for illegal immigrant reform. His deputies did not have access to federal immigration information, until now.
For the next five weeks, federal officials will train 15 Davidson County deputies.
The program is called 287(G), and it will equip officers to identify, process and detain criminal illegal immigrants.
"Once that's through, these folks will be trained and have the authority to charge you with being in the country illegally, which is a very serious violation and it's also a very seriously responsibility. We want to make sure that our staff is trained properly," Hall said.
For Hall it's less of an immigration issue, and more about public safety.
"The public here in this city should feel more comfortable...if you're violating local law and you're in the country illegally, we're not gonna ignore that. We're gonna process you out of the country," Hall said.
As immigrant populations grow across the Volunteer State, Sheriff Hall said virtually every county has contacted him interested in this federal program.
Davidson County deputies will be ready by May to enforce the Federal immigration laws.