In 1996, The Illegal Immigration Reform and Immigrant Responsibility Act of 1996 introduced language allowing U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) to delegate immigration enforcement duties to local police. Under the Jail Enforcement Model, our local police department can use the Knox County jail to detain undocumented immigrants for ICE.
According to the ICE informational website, the program helps local law enforcement in that “[g]ang members, sex offenders, and murderers are often identified and taken into ICE custody after serving their criminal sentences, thus being removed from the community.”According to Knox News, A local news article by Knox News shows that since 2017, in f Knox County, more than 81% ICE detainees were being held in the Knox County jail on ICE’s behalf, for petty and non-violent crime.
These “crimes” include arrests for people with a warrant for a failure to appear at a court date or failure to pay child support. What would normally be an easy bond hearing followed by release suddenly means that you or your family member is likely to get deported. For immigrants facing family law cases, detention and deportation can mean losing their children without a court hearing.
In Tennessee, only two police departments participate in ICE’s Jail Enforcement Model: Knox County Sherriff and Greene County Sheriff. Their participation in this program allows them to:
- Share and receive information about detainees with ICE;
- Interrogate detainees about their immigration status;
- Serve and execute warrants for arrest for violation of immigration laws;
- Serve warrants for detention and deportation;
- Detain immigrants for up to 48 hours for ICE to determine whether they want to transport the detainee to an ICE detention center;
- Prepare documents for ICE officers
Professor Arléne Amarante of Lincoln Memorial University’s Duncan School of Law, leader and founding member of both AKIN and Adelante, advised that the best thing a client can do to avoid being detained under this program while in a courthouse is to appear with a team supporting the client. She advised that it has been her experience, and the experience of other practitioners in the area, that to the extent you can show you are supported by the community, you become much less of a target for ICE detention. To put it bluntly, never go to Court alone.
If you have a legal issue in Knox County and the surrounding area, and you know that your immigration status may become an issue, make sure that you have a plan in place to protect yourself and your family. At Held Law Firm, we have an immigration attorney on staff to ensure that our clients are protected and that a client’s immigration status is carefully considered when planning for litigation. If you have any questions, call us today for a free consultation.