Groups Seek Supreme Court Block Of 287(g) Program - NewsChannel5.com | Nashville News, Weather & Sports

Groups Seek Supreme Court Block Of 287(g) Program

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NASHVILLE, Tenn.- Several groups have issued a challenge to the Tennessee Supreme Court, asking them to block the Davidson County Sheriff's Office ability to deport immigrants who are in the country illegally.

The Southern Poverty Law Center (SPLC), the National Immigration Project of the National Lawyers Guild (NIPNLG), and the Law Offices of Elliott Ozment, joined by local attorneys from the firm of Sherrard & Roe issued the request Thursday.

The 287-G program allows Davidson County sheriff's deputies to identify, process and detain illegal immigrants who have been arrested for other offenses. But immigration attorney Elliott Ozment argues the sheriff's office can't enter into that agreement, because the agency gave up law enforcement powers in 1963. Ozment filed a lawsuit in January 2011 saying the 287(g) in Nashville violates state and local laws.

"This agreement is illegal and enforcing it simply adds insult to injury for the Nashville community," said Tom Fritzsche, staff attorney for the SPLC. "The program is fraught with problems and abuses. It undermines public safety by creating a distrust of law enforcement and is nothing more than a prescription for crime in Nashville's communities."

Under the Metro Nashville charter, the sheriff's office is responsible for the jail, while Metro police are responsible for law enforcement.

"The legal prohibition on the Davidson County Sheriff's performance of law enforcement functions is as old as the metropolitan government itself," said Ozment, "The 287(g) Agreement clearly violates that prohibition."

Ozment and others from the group said that Davidson County Sheriff's deputies have been interrogating detainees about their immigration status and recommending their deportation to federal agents since 2007.

"The 287(g) program is not making the community safer," said Trina Realmuto, counsel for NIPNLG. "Instead, the program fosters distrust for law enforcement officials in the immigrant community, making it less likely immigrants will report crimes, including crimes of domestic or sexual abuse."

The Metro Department of Law released the following statement in regards to the issue:

Our position is that the Metro Charter vests the Sheriff with exclusive jurisdiction over the jails, and the MOA is a Detention Model MOA that can only be carried out within the confines of a jail.  Further, the Metro Charter states that the Metro Council has authority to designate which Metro department should carry out duties that are not otherwise provided for in the Charter.  And the Metro Charter addresses only state and local laws , not which department has authority to assist the U.S in federal immigration laws.

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