Press statement: Knox County 287(g) memorandum of agreement appears on ICE website


June 28, 2017

Knox County 287(g) Memorandum of Agreement Appears on ICE Website


Knoxville, TN—We are disappointed to learn that a 287(g) memorandum of agreement (MOA), signed by both ICE and Knox County Sheriff Jimmy “JJ” Jones, has appeared on ICE’s website. The MOA was signed by Sheriff Jones on June 13, 2017 and by Matthew Albence, Executive Associate Director of ICE Enforcement and Removal Operations, on June 15, 2017. The MOA is available here:

Sheriff Jones has not publicly acknowledged Knox County’s approval for 287(g). The lack of transparency surrounding the program’s approval and timeline for implementation mirrors the Sheriff’s ongoing refusal to meet with Knox County residents to hear concerns about the program.

287(g) is a voluntary program that enables local law enforcement to enforce some aspects of federal immigration law.  Local governments assume the majority of costs associated with operating the program, including liability for civil rights violations. Nationwide, the controversial program has resulted in family separation, racial profiling, constitutional violations of due process, and a climate of fear between local police and communities.

In Knoxville, the Sheriff’s pursuit of 287(g) exacerbates a gulf of distrust left over from his inflammatory comments in the wake of a previously rejected application for the same program. In 2013, when Sheriff Jones learned of the application’s rejection, he affirmed his intent to violate federal law, saying, “I will continue to enforce these federal immigration violations with or without the help of U.S Immigration and Customs Enforcement… I will stack these violators like cordwood in the Knox County Jail.”

Although the MOA has been signed, 287(g) is not yet fully operative in Knox County. At minimum, the MOA requires that KCSO deputies participate in training prior to implementation.

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AKIN is a network of people in the Knoxville area whose mission is to: encourage dialogue about issues related to immigrants and refugees; build better understanding among immigrants, refugees and members of local receiving communities; support and learn from immigrant and refugee communities as they engage in civic and political life; promote more just and reasonable policies toward immigration and asylum; and foster a welcoming atmosphere in which all people are treated with dignity and respect and recognized for their positive contributions to the community.


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