ACLU sends warning letter to Knox County sheriff

ACLU sends warning letter to Knox County sheriff over 287(g) comments


KNOXVILLE (WATE) - The American Civil Liberties Union of Tennessee and the national ACLU Immigrants' Rights Project sent a letter to Knox County Sheriff Jimmy "J.J." Jones Wednesday, stating that he does not have the authority to enforce federal immigration law.

The letter also says if Sheriff Jones or his deputies detain people solely on the basis of their immigration status, they risk liability for constitutional violations.

The ACLU sent the letter to Jones as a response to his comments on Knox County's denial for the 287(g) immigration enforcement program.

Jones stated he "will continue to enforce these federal immigration violations with or without the help of U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE).  If need be, I will stack these violators like cordwood in the Knox County Jail until the appropriate federal agency responds."

"Sheriff Jones' vitriolic statement undermines Tennesseans' values of fairness and equality," said Hedy Weinberg, ACLU-TN executive director, in a prepared release.  "Sheriff Jones' primary responsibility is protecting all Knox County residents.  However, his assertion that he intends to divert precious law enforcement resources toward an unauthorized pursuit of false threats only damages public safety by eroding the trust and cooperation of immigrant communities."

The letter also urges the sheriff to "correct your statement both publicly to ensure public trust in your Department continues and internally to inform your Deputies of the limitations on their authority to hold individuals."


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