KNOX COUNTY — Tensions were running high after a Knox County meeting about a controversial immigration program called 287g.
More than 100 people attended a meeting Wednesday morning to explain 287g — a law that allows local law enforcement to screen the immigration status of people they arrest.
Many of the people in attendance voiced their opposition to the rule. They were concerned about racial profiling, cost and family separation.
ICE officials said its a non-discriminatory program and the majority of people who are in violation of immigration status are not detained.
The meeting, which was only supposed to last for an hour, went from 8:30 a.m. to 11:30 a.m.
Knox County started following the rule in January and since then, the office says there have been about 12,000 arrests and three percent of those have been of people born outside the country. Less than a third of those people were found in violation of the immigration law.
287g has more than 70 programs across the country in 20 states. Knox County is the only county in Tennessee that executes the program.
Knox County Sheriff J.J. Jones vocally disagreed with concerns in front of a crowd of critics, and at one point said he would remove a person if they continued to say profanity.
"There are certainly horror stories that have come out from police agencies about ICE detainees, absolutely, I will not disagree with that at all," Jones said. "I made this statement when I first started this application process, that it was my commitment that that would not happen in Knox County. And I'm standing here telling you that the things you're talking about are not happening in Knox County. They may be happening somewhere else, but they're not happening here. Period. I know that."
Incoming Knox County Sheriff Tom Spangler says he will follow the same guidelines currently used.
"You can see it remaining the same way. The way it was implemented under Sheriff Jones and the way it is implemented through ICE. Nothing else other than that," said Spangler. "We’re doing what is correct and what we think we need to be able to."