SPLC pleased by end of immigration agreement in Nashville

The Southern Poverty Law Center lauded the Davidson County sheriff’s announcement today that he will end the 287(g) immigration enforcement program in Nashville, Tenn., but will continue to monitor immigration policy there.

“We are pleased to see the end of this destructive program in Nashville,” said SPLC staff attorney Tom Fritzsche. “This is a victory for immigrants and communities across the country suffering under a program that is plagued with problems and abuses. We are glad that our efforts to block this illegal agreement have been met with this result. We will continue to remain vigilant of any measures that seek to demonize the immigrant community.”

The SPLC and its allies filed a lawsuit in January 2011 because the agreement between Nashville and the U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE), which created a 287(g) program in Nashville, violates state and local laws. Earlier this summer, the coalition, joined by local attorneys from the firm of Sherrard & Roe, asked the Tennessee Supreme Court to block the unlawful program.

The Metropolitan Nashville Police Department – not the sheriff’s office – was designated as the primary law enforcement agency under the metropolitan government charter. State and local laws limit the duties of the sheriff’s office to ensuring the safety and security of county jail inmates and serving all civil process. It cannot assume immigration enforcement duties.

The 287(g) agreement clearly violates a congressional mandate preventing ICE from creating 287(g) programs in communities where the program would violate state and local laws.

The SPLC’s co-counsel in the federal lawsuit are Ozment Law and the National Immigration Project of the National Lawyers Guild. Attorneys on the case include Elliott Ozment and Andrew Free of Ozment Law; Fritzsche, Daniel Werner and Christina Iturralde of the Southern Poverty Law Center; Trina Realmuto of the National Immigration Project of the National Lawyers Guild; and Bill Harbison and Phil Cramer of Sherrard & Roe.