KNOXVILLE, Tenn. (WATE) — Knox County Sheriff Tom Spangler reaffirmed his commitment to continue renewing controversial immigration enforcement program 287(g).

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

Spangler renewed the order for the second time in May.

The program works by giving local authorities access to records to see if a person under arrest is facing immigration enforcement. U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement says this is only after they’ve been arrested at the state or local level.

In a video released Wednesday, Spangler says while he has heard from many on both sides of the issue, he will “not only not rescind the current contract with 287(g), but I will sign the renewal each time it is up.”

Spangler referenced his duty to protect Knox County citizens and the family of Pierce Corcoran as part of his reasoning to continue the program. Corcoran was killed by Franco Cambrany Francisco-Eduardo, 44, in a 2019 traffic accident on Chapman Highway. Francisco-Eduardo was deported on April 9 according to ICE.

While Spangler was adamant about continuing 287(g) he was equally adamant about how it was being used in Knox County.

“I nor my deputies will ever go to anyone’s home looking for someone who is here illegally,” he said. “If you do not commit a crime, you will not go to jail. This applies to everyone — and I mean everyone — without exception.”

Spangler said he has spent a significant amount of time listening to supporters of both sides of the issue including protestors of the program that visited the Knox County Sheriff’s Office, his home, and his place of worship.