Knox Co. Sheriff defends initiative with ICE

KNOXVILLE, Tenn. (WVLT)- A Steering Committee Meeting for 287(g) became heated at the City-County Building in Knoxville Wednesday morning.

287(g) is an initiative with U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement that allows agents to work with local law enforcement. Knox County adopted the initiative about six months ago.

The program allows ICE to deputize local or state law-enforcement agencies so they can enforce federal immigration laws. Under 287(g), these specially trained officers are allowed to screen jailed immigrants, determine their immigration status, and hold immigrants for ICE agents to pick up for deportation.

About 200 people showed up at the meeting in opposition to the initiative to voice their concerns. Many yelled "shame" and "lies" to the county and federal officials present.

The meeting was originally scheduled for one hour, but lasted for almost three hours. Sheriff Jones and Brian Cox with ICE stayed to listen to each person who wanted to speak about the initiative.

Chris Irwin, a criminal defense attorney, showed up on his lunch break to voice his concerns.

"They're taking people on misdemeanors that are getting dismissed, and they're shipping them out and I have to stand in the hallways with the four kids and the weeping parent who suddenly lost their wage earner," he said.

Sheriff J.J. Jones responded by telling the crowd there would not be any profiling with this initiative in place.

ICE officials said any extra equipment would be paid for by ICE and remain ICE property. The county would be reimbursed for any training needed with 287(g).