KNOXVILLE, Tenn. (WATE) – The Knox County Sheriff’s Office announced that Sheriff Tom Spangler has renewed a memorandum of understanding between the sheriff’s office and U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement known as the 287(g) program.

“I believe the continuation of the Memorandum of Understanding also known as the 287(g) is the best thing for Knox County and our citizens,” said Spangler in a statement.

The program, which began under former Sheriff Jimmy “J.J.” Jones, allows deputies to take on some of the functions of immigration agents. It has come under constant pushback.

The Allies of Knoxville’s Immigrant Neighbors (AKIN) releasing a statement in response to the 287(g) program renewal.

AKIN stating that they’re disappointed at Sheriff Spangler for renewing this program and that this agreement is not, “…the best thing for Knox County.” They continue saying, “Rather than making our county safer, this expensive and controversial program makes us less secure.”

Protesters have urged Spangler not to continue the agreement and a lawsuit is currently underway claiming the sheriff’s office violated the Public Records Act by denying UT Professor Megan Conley’s requests to access material related to the program.