Community members concerned about 287(g)

10:58 PM, Jul 23, 2013   |    comments
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  • Community members concerned about 287(g)
  • Community members concerned about 287(g)
  • Community members concerned about 287(g)

(WBIR - Knoxville) Tuesday night, dozens of people met to voice their frustrations about a controversial program that could be headed to Knox County.

287(g) is aimed at identifying people who commit crimes, and who are in the country illegally.

"It's a really bad idea for Knoxville," said Emma Ellis-Cosigua, who came the U.S. from Guatemala in the 1970s. "Knoxville is progressive in some way and I think that it would be great for us to continue to be a progressive city, and not regress by implementing such a program. The nation is moving forward with immigration reform, and I would like us to do the same thing."

Ellis-Cosigua said she got her citizenship in order to vote, and have a voice for others who do not. She hopes continued discussion will do just that.

"I hope that what comes out of this meeting is that people in the community see that this will not be good for Knoxville."

Earlier this month, Knox County Sheriff J.J. Jones held a discussion with the public to address concerns and to explain how 287(g) would work, if the county decided to implement the program.

He told the crowd he would make a decision within a few weeks, and only after he got more information from federal officials.

"They were told there would be some time before the Sheriff signed. And then, the rumor came to that he had already signed," said Alysa Medina of Tennessee Immigrant & Refugee Rights Coalition.

"We're not sure, really, where this is all in the process."

The sheriff's department has not confirmed any decision about adopting the program.

Instead, it referred media inquiries to the Immigration and Custom's Enforcement (ICE). 10News was unable to reach ICE's national office Tuesday afternoon.

"Transparency, it's not happening," said Ellis-Cosigua. "We haven't seen it and that's the problem. He's not transparent and that's what we need."

"We don't have a lot of official information," added Medina. "And this is one of the reasons we feel like this whole process has been very difficult for our community."

A handful of community leaders attended Tuesday night's meeting, where some people shared their personal experience as an immigrant. "Fear" was a common theme.

"If they lose trust, it will affect every single one of us," said Median, referring to the immigrant community.

In the meeting earlier this month, Sheriff Jones told the public if 287g was enacted:

  • Officers would only be allowed to check immigration statuses if the person was already detained
  • No matter the result, the person would have the opportunity to bond out of jail
  • Deputies would receive free training from the Feds as they learn how to implement the program
  • With that, a federal agent would be housed locally



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