NASHVILLE, Tenn. - Davidson County Sheriff Daron Hall will travel to Washington D.C. to advocate for a federal immigration court in Nashville.
Hall is going to push lawmakers to bring the court to the city because Middle Tennessee is the nation's fourth largest area for processing criminals who are illegal immigrants.
"Nashville is processing more people than any other city, other than California and Phoenix, Ariz., he said.
The increase is due to the county's partnership with the U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE). A year ago, the county started using a federal database to check the immigration status of those arrested and brought to the county jail.
"It just seems to be a logistical nightmare," Hall said.
The closest immigration court is hours away in Memphis.
"Early on there were people identified as illegal, released to appear in Memphis court and were not appearing at any rate at all," Hall said.
Federal agents told the sheriff's office to detain most of these criminals and put them on the long path to getting a bond hearing criminals are first taken to a detention facility in Alabama then to Louisiana for a bond hearing.
"The whole process takes about three weeks," said immigration attorney Sean Lewis.
He believes the long-distance process needs to change.
"It's a mess, and we're talking about someone with a civil violation being detained physically," he said.
"I can't believe it wouldn't be more cost-effective to do it this way," he said.
Hall believes having an immigration court in Nashville is the solution to streamline the process.
"We are doing the immigration courts work for them by identifying them locally. Surely they can meet us halfway with what the needs are now," he said.
During his time in D.C., Hall will meet with Tennessee lawmakers and officials with the U.S. Department of Justice officials and the Department Homeland Security.
Hall will plead his case on why a federal immigration court needs to come to Nashville. U.S. Sen. Lamar Alexander supports the effort.
Hall believes it will be an uphill battle. Sean Lewis believes it will not happen. It could take months though to finally find out if idea is endorsed.