"I have learned of special needs that immigrants may have as they face deportation."
12 deputies to get five-week training
Implementation may be three months away
"There are many, many productive immigrant citizens in this community – and they have nothing to fear."
Read an interview with a former member of Hall's immigrant advisory council here.
In the following interview with the Hispanic Nashville Notebook (HNN), Davidson County Sheriff Daron Hall answers questions about 287(g), the federal/local cooperation initiative to review, detain, and possibly deport immigrants. Last week, Hall's application to implement 287(g) in Davidson County was approved by the Department of Homeland Security. Earlier this week, HNN recapped the news to date on 287(g) and interviewed one of the members of Hall's advisory committee on 287(g).
Sheriff Hall's own comments about the preliminary status of 287(g) are below.
HNN: You have requested a program by which your office will have the power to review detainees' immigration records and process them for deportation by the federal government. Is that a fair characterization of 287(g)? What other goals does the program have?
It is the intent of the Davidson County Sheriff’s Office and Immigration Customs Enforcement (ICE) partnership, through the 287 (g) Delegation of Authority program, to verify the immigration status of all foreign-born criminal arrestees and those issued misdemeanor citations in lieu of arrest. Criminal (physical) arrestees will be subject to a more intense investigation.
HNN: Is the primary purpose of 287(g) to enhance your ability to protect the population from dangerous criminals who also happen to have no valid immigration status, or is it something else? How does your office attempt to accomplish this now in the absence of 287(g)? Has there been any success on this front without 287(g)?
The ultimate goal is to increase public safety by detaining and removing those who pose a risk to the Nashville community. Currently, the DCSO has no authority to investigate the status of any foreign-born individual. As has been the case for years, foreign-born arrestees names are provided via a computer query during the booking process to ICE and they have the responsibility to investigate further.
HNN: Does 287(g) have any empirical evidence to support its implementation? Another way to ask this question is, what proof do we have that deportation actually reduce instances of violent crime? Isn't it possible for someone who is deported to return without your department knowing about it?
You would really need to ask ICE about the reduction in violent crimes or other counties who have had this program in place for some time. Charlotte, NC, has stats that show that since they started their program (eight months ago) there has been 15 percent drop in arrests for driving-related offenses. In addition, driving and minor crime arrests of persons who were later identified as illegal or suspected illegal immigrants also declined by 15 percent. I will tell you there were several high-profile crimes over the summer last year that were committed by people who were later identified as illegal immigrants who had also had previous contact with the Davidson County criminal justice system. The public voiced great concern over these crimes and no one in government had an answer. I sought to improve the system -recognizing that no plan or program is perfect, the 287 (g) option appears to be well suited for Nashville.
Yes, it is possible for someone to return without us knowing it.
HNN: What kind of immigration status information would you be able to review in a 287(g) program? Would you know everything there is to know in terms of an individual's prior immigration history, or is there a narrower set of data that your office will get? Is there any concern that the information you get is inaccurate or insufficient?
You must understand that we just received approval last week, which is one of the first steps. Our officers must undergo five weeks of training where much of this information will be revealed. Again, I would suggest contacting ICE or other agencies (Charlotte) that are already in operation.
HNN: How much detail is known already about what Nashville's 287(g) program would look like? I.e.: How would the 287(g) be triggered, and what kind of interview process is there?
Anyone who indicates they are foreign-born and processes through the jail would be subject to investigation under 287 (g).
HNN: Would speaking a foreign language be enough to trigger a federal records check?
HNN: How long would the federal records check take, and what are the various outcomes of that check?
Processing one individual could take up to four hours. Outcomes could range from release, to issuance of a Notice to Appear, to deportation.
HNN: At what point would a person be flagged for deportation, and how would that work?
These guidelines are set by ICE and we are not in possession of them yet. Again, the training will set-forth these regulations.
HNN: Would deportation occur in every instance in which an individual is flagged for deportation, or would release be possible?
Release would be possible – not deportation every time.
HNN: What would the typical detention times be for people sent through 287(g) - both people who are eventually cleared and people who are flagged for deportation?
Someone who is cleared could be have their immigration status verified within an hour, however, they must still face the arrest charges. Someone who is flagged for an automatic deportation would be held until they are deported.
HNN: Is it possible that legal immigrants and U.S. citizens will be subject to a 287(g) check and detained longer than if they were not put through a 287(g) check, and if so, how long? Is it possible that someone would be erroneously flagged for deportation? How likely is that?
These are all “what if” questions and we really need to stick with the facts of what we know. Understand that as we get further in this process more questions can be answered, and we will do everything to ensure this program is run as efficiently and effectively as possible.
HNN: You have reviewed the implementation of 287(g) in other places such as North Carolina. What kind of results are you hearing about? What are the successes? What are the challenges? How do you plan to meet those challenges?
Please look back to questions where Charlotte is referenced. I would rather not comment for them. I have formed an Immigration Advisory Council earlier than any other jurisdiction approved for 287 (g). I wanted to hear their concerns, educate them on the process, and get their input as we move forward.
HNN: Now that Tennesseans without legal immigration status have been prohibited by the State from getting drivers licenses and motor vehicle insurance, is it more likely that non-criminal civil immigrant infractions will be picked up by police and processed by your office?
We do not determine who is picked up by the police, but those who are foreign-born with citations for driving infractions will be processed via a computer query with ICE just as they have been for the past several years.
HNN: Will there be any evaluation of whether 287(g) catches more dangerous criminals than ordinary immigrants, or vice versa? Would you be able to guess now what those statistics would look like?
I won’t predict what any stats will look like, but we do plan to keep extensive, detailed statistics.
HNN: What are the keys to the success of the 287(g) program, and what do you have to avoid to keep 287(g) from making things worse for your department and the community?
What people must understand is that the 287 (g) program is regulated by federal immigration law. There is very little the Sheriff’s Office will dictate as far as who is processed. Although this is not the perfect solution, it is a step in the right direction in keeping our community safe. For me, this is about public safety and what I can do as sheriff for our community. We want to keep the public informed about what we are doing and transparency is important so that we will continue to have credibility with those we serve.
HNN: If 287(g) is implemented, will it be enough?
It is a step in the right direction and all we can do with the limited authority we will possess under 287 (g).
HNN: When illegal immigrants continue to commit crimes after 287(g), what is the next power or set of powers that you could envision being requested for your department or for the police department?
That is a question for the federal government. They would be the entity that would determine whether or not they want to give local jurisdictions any further powers.
HNN: Your office is distinct from the Metro Nashville Police Department. What role do the police have in the implementation of 287(g)?
HNN: Does your office have any interest in how the MNPD does its job that could affect how your office implements 287(g)?
I believe the MNPD is a professional organization and under Chief Serpas’ direction will continue to be effective under 287 (g). We are two separate agencies and police officers will not even have access to the room where the 287 (g) information system is located.
HNN: What kind of skills and/or experience do you have that adds value to the implementation of 287(g), and what skills or experience would you look for in any future successor that would be crucial to the success of the 287(g) program?
I have public safety as my number one priority for this community and I believe anyone who serves as sheriff would need to share that desire.
HNN: What role have community representatives had in the application for a 287(g) program? Who are they, how were they selected, and why have they been invited to the table? How important has their participation been to the process?
When I started the application process for this program, I asked for the help of the TN delegation, local/state lawmakers, and anyone else that I felt would be beneficial in making this happen. I have also formed a council, as mentioned previously, of those who have particular interest in immigration issues. They were randomly selected among people who showed interest and also were selected because they might not think the same as I do. I wanted healthy debate about this issue and I believe those who are on the council are contributing that. Participants include immigration attorneys, independent advocates, local Hispanic business owners, and immigrant representatives from non-profit organizations.
HNN: Who will make the ultimate decisions in whether to implement 287(g) and how it will be implemented?
By applying, I made the decision as sheriff that the Davidson County Sheriff’s Office was willing to participate in the program. Receiving the approval last week from the Department of Homeland Security, made our participation possible. The ICE regulations will determine how it is implemented. We hope to have the program up and running within the next 90 days – give or take. Twelve Sheriff’s Office deputies will need to be selected and go through a rigorous five week training.
HNN: What restrictions are built in to 287(g) that you might otherwise want to do without? Are there modifications or customizations that you can or have requested? Do you have any discretion in how you implement the program, and if so, will the community involvement you have solicited be included?
We will learn more details of the program’s implementation as we move forward these next couple of weeks and I will be able to better answer that as these details are made clear.
HNN: Have you learned anything from your discussions with the immigrant community that is particularly useful or insightful?
Most importantly, I have learned of special needs that immigrants may have as they face deportation and what the Sheriff’s Office can do to assist immigrants and their families. I will do everything possible to accommodate needs during a difficult time.
HNN: Are any of the concerns raised by the immigrant community also echoed by the community at large?
No. The feedback from the community at large has been predominately positive with none of the concerns echoed by the immigrant community.
HNN: If you could get one message about 287(g) to the Hispanic people in your jurisdiction - including (criminal and noncriminal) U.S.-born citizens, foreign-born naturalized U.S. citizens, legal immigrant permanent and temporary residents, and illegal immigrant permanent and temporary residents - and it would be guaranteed that they would hear it, what would that message be?
We are not going out and looking for illegal immigrants to “round up” and deport. There are many, many productive immigrant citizens in this community – and they have nothing to fear. The Davidson County Sheriff’s Office does not conduct checkpoints or make criminal arrests. However, if you are illegal and committing crimes, and arrested by the police department, you will be processed through this program and could face deportation.
Update 1/14/2007: The Nashville City Paper reported here on the January 10 meeting of the Sheriff's advisory council.
Read the HNN interview with one of the members of the advisory council here.