Knox Co. residents' reactions mixed on sheriff's response

Knox Co. residents' reactions mixed on sheriff's response to 287(g) rejection

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"[Sheriff Jones] should leave enforcing federal law to the feds and worry about enforcing state law, which we have enough trouble with in Knox County anyway," said Danny Garland. "[Sheriff Jones] should leave enforcing federal law to the feds and worry about enforcing state law, which we have enough trouble with in Knox County anyway," said Danny Garland.
I do think there's something that needs to be done about [illegal immigration], and I don't think just letting it go is the answer," said Donna Mullins. I do think there's something that needs to be done about [illegal immigration], and I don't think just letting it go is the answer," said Donna Mullins.
Attorney Philip Lomonaco says it is not legal for the sheriff to enforce federal law. Attorney Philip Lomonaco says it is not legal for the sheriff to enforce federal law.

By STEPHANIE BEECKEN
6 News Reporter

KNOXVILLE (WATE) - Knox County Sheriff Jimmy "J.J." Jones says the majority of Knox County residents feel the way he does about the issue of illegal immigration, but 6 News found mixed responses.

In a strongly worded response to the federal government's decision to reject the county's application for the 287(g) program Wednesday, Jones said the federal government is shirking its responsibilities for providing safety and security to its citizens.

Jones called said he'd enforce immigration violations with or without federal help, and if need be "stack these violators like cordwood in the county jail." So do people agree with the sheriff and what can the sheriff do legally?

6 News spoke with several Knox County residents, and opinions are mixed on the sheriff's response to the illegal immigration issue.

Knox County Resident Danny Garland doesn't agree with the sheriff's statement, especially the part where the sheriff says he'll continue enforcing federal immigration violations with or without the help of U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement.

"He should leave enforcing federal law to the feds and worry about enforcing state law, which we have enough trouble with in Knox County anyway," said Garland.

Knox County Resident Donna Mullins supports the sheriff's efforts to crack down on illegal immigration.

"I feel like we need to do something about immigration.  I'm not saying we need to send them back, but I do think there's something that needs to be done about it, and I don't think just letting it go is the answer," said Mullins.

In the most controversial part of the statement the sheriff says, "If need be, I will stack these violators like cordwood in the Knox County jail until the appropriate federal agency responds."

Knox County resident Sydnah Bowman supports legal immigration and wishes the sheriff had used a different phrase to describe his efforts.

"I think he could have made his point a little more diplomatically, so no, I do not agree with that statement or how he said it. But yes, I do agree with what he's trying to do," said Bowman.

Danielle Wright says comparing humans to cordwood is wrong.

"In his statement I believe he was going to stack them up like cordwood that reminds me of slavery, I completely disagree with that," said Wright.

Attorney Philip Lomonaco has handled dozens of civil rights cases.  He says it is not legal for the sheriff to enforce federal law.

"If there's not a federal detainer against somebody they have to be released if they can make bond.  Putting someone in jail without the right to make bond or to go to court to face your charges it is a civil right violation," said Lomonaco.

According to the sheriff's office, in 2012 there were 276 inmates held for federal immigration authorities.  The cost was more than $333,000.  This does not include the cost for medicine and mental health treatment.

A spokesperson for the sheriff's office says, "Sheriff Jones will continue to do what we have always done and that is hold a detainee until the appropriate agency takes the detainee into their custody."

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