Davidson Co. won't renew immigration detainment program - WSMV News 4

Davidson Co. won't renew immigration detainment program

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NASHVILLE, TN (WSMV) -

After years of both criticism and praise, a program aimed to curb illegal immigration in Davidson County is ending.

Davidson County Sheriff Daron Hall said Tuesday that Nashville will not renew the 287(g) Delegation of Authority Program, which was implemented in 2007 and gives deputies the authority to process and detain criminal illegal immigrants encountered in the jail booking process.

Hall said the controversy had nothing to do with his decision to end the program, but he said it was important to make the announcement now before Metro Council started to debate a proposed charter amendment about the sheriff's duties.

"We said from the beginning that we would not continue to do the program if it was not having a significant impact in this community and it was time to move on. That time has come," Hall said.

Hall said the county's agreement with the U.S. Immigration Enforcement office expires on Oct. 8.

The office will now use a program called Secure Communities, which screens foreign-born people who are arrested upon fingerprinting.

"The risk is that if you are in the country illegally and do not have your fingerprints in the system and you commit a crime, it has no way to know if you are illegally here. So that person could be released back into the community," Hall said.

Hall said since the program started, more than 10,000 illegal aliens have been processed for removal from Davidson County, and overall there has been an 80 percent decrease in the number of illegal immigrants arrested in the county.

Those who have been directly impacted by the 287(g) program said this is a long time coming but still express doubts about the alternative.

"I feel really happy, because tonight we can sleep peacefully that one of the big monsters is gone here in Davidson County," said Amelio Moreno.

The 12 staff members who worked on the 287(g) program will be offered jobs elsewhere in the sheriff's office.

Copyright WSMV 2012 (Meredith Corporation). All rights reserved.

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