Davidson County Sheriff Daron Hall announced Tuesday morning he will not renew participation in the 287(g) immigration enforcement program when it expires in October.
Named for a section of federal immigration law, the program, which began in Nashville just over five years ago, gives trained deputies the authorization to identify, process, and when appropriate, detain criminal illegal immigrants encountered in the jail booking process.
As a result of the program, Hall said, "More than 10,000 illegal aliens have been processed for removal which has led to an 80% decline in the percentage of illegal aliens arrested in Davidson County."
The workload of the 287(g) deputies has decreased by 70% and Hall said the program is no longer necessary.
He said the sheriff's office will instead participate in the Obama Administration's Secure Communities initiative which automatically screens foreign born arrestees upon fingerprinting when booked in jail.
"I would not feel comfortable discontinuing the program if there was not a system in place that would continue to screen known illegal aliens booked into jail – but there is," Hall said, adding, "Secure Communities is already integrated with our booking system. It prioritizes efforts to identify and remove criminal aliens and others who pose a potential threat to public safety."
19 year old Luis Escoto who moved with his family from Mexico 16 years ago said of the decision, "I felt like a weight was lifted off my shoulders."
Escoto who is an illegal immigrant told News 2, "For years now ever since the program was implemented my family has been more cautious about going out into the streets and going out to buy groceries. So even the simple things most people might take for granted were a worry for us."
However the Secure Communities program will require an immigration status check of foreign born arrestees.