Davidson County Sheriff's Office will no longer house ICE detainees starting in December

Posted at 8:58 AM, Oct 29, 2019

NASHVILLE, Tenn. (WTVF) — The Davidson County Sheriff's Office will no longer house Immigration and Customs Enforcement detainees starting December 1.

The sheriff's office is ending the contract with ICE following meetings with local advocacy groups, Mayor John Cooper, Metro Council members and internal stakeholders.

"The continued confusion and hyper-political nature of this issue has become a distraction from sheriff’s office priorities,"Sheriff Daron Hall said. "The number of individuals detained as a result of this contract is less than one percent of overall jail bookings; however, I spend an inordinate amount of my time debating its validity."

Hall said any future interaction with ICE will be limited to what is required by law.

Mayor Cooper said the sheriff's office made the right decision to cancel its inmate housing contract with ICE.

"Nashville’s local law enforcement agencies should not use Metro’s limited resources to fulfill the responsibilities of federal government agencies," Cooper said. "As I’ve stated before, we must find appropriate ways for Metro agencies and employees to interact with federal immigration authorities in a manner that respects the separate roles of federal and local governments while also protecting the safety and well-being of everyone in our immigrant communities. I look forward to the recommendations of the task force that my office has assembled to help address these urgent matters affecting our city and our neighbors and I thank Daron Hall for participating in the task force."

The Tennessee Immigrant and Refugee Rights Coalition applauded Hall's decision to end the contract.

"At a critical moment for immigrant families, TIRRC is proud to work alongside our engaged community members and local leaders who believe in making our city safer and more welcoming for everyone who calls Nashville home,” said TRICC Policy Director Lisa Sherman-Nikolaus. "Sheriff Hall’s decision to end the jail’s rent-a-bed agreement with ICE is an important first step toward disentangling our jail from civil immigration enforcement and ensuring that our city is not complicit in tearing families apart."

TIRRC said the decision is an important first step toward protecting immigrant families.

"Our goal is for every one of Nashville’s residents to have faith and trust in their ability to fully interact with city government, whether that’s through schools, the health department or the justice system, and Sheriff Hall’s announcement moves our city closer to that goal," said Bob Mendes, Metro Councilmember At-Large. "While this is only a first step, today, we can celebrate our city’s commitment to focus first and foremost on the work of local government and making Nashville a safer place for all our neighbors."

Metro Nashville government began receiving revenue to house various federal detainees, including ICE, in 1996.

Senator Marsha Blackburn took to social media to express her frustration over the policy:
Lawless sanctuary cities make our communities dangerous, and this policy is irresponsible. It’s a sad day when law enforcement prioritizes politics over public safety. This decision is a win for one group — criminal illegal immigrants."