Category Archives: News

When the heck is the KCSO 287(g) steering committee meeting, anyway?

When is the KCSO 287(g) steering committee meeting? Seems like it should be a fairly straightforward question to answer.

However, since May 24, the Knox County Sheriff’s Office has posted four different dates/times for this meeting.

Originally, the meeting was scheduled for June 26 at 8:30 am:

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On June 20, the date was changed to July 10 at 8:30 am:

Continue reading When the heck is the KCSO 287(g) steering committee meeting, anyway?

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Local impact of new Tennessee laws

Here are some updates on two pieces of bad legislation that were recently passed into law in Tennessee, and that may impact immigrant communities in Knoxville and around the state.

HB2315

The anti-sanctuary law, HB 2315, prohibits state and local governments and entities from enacting any type of sanctuary policy, which include policies that limit cooperation between local police and ICE, that prevent police from asking about immigration status, and that prevent local police from detaining people for ICE.

The bill originally required TN law enforcement agencies to enter into 287(g) agreements, but this part was amended before it passed into law. Police may enter into 287(g) agreements, but they are no longer compelled to do so (basically, nothing here has changed, and Knox County continues to be the only place in TN with a 287(g) agreement).
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Knoxville Rejects White Nationalism

By Meghan Conley

Cross-posted at The Institute for Research and Education on Human Rights (IREHR).

TWP 3
Photo credit: Louise Seamster

In February 2018, the Traditionalist Worker Party (TWP) kicked off a multi-state campus tour, entitled “National Socialism or Death,” at the University of Tennessee, Knoxville (UTK). Thus, Tennessee’s flagship campus became the latest in a long line of universities recently targeted by white nationalist and white supremacist groups. These organizations want to recruit and build a following on campuses across the United States. They also seek to undermine the credibility of institutions of higher education. This article outlines TWP’s recent incursion into Knoxville and the community’s responses.

The Traditionalist Worker Party (TWP), co-founded by Matthew Heimbach, is a white nationalist organization. It advocates for the creation of an independent whites-only nation-state. Core to white nationalist belief is the notion that the United States was built by and for white people. Notably, this idea has purchase even in academic circles, albeit thinly veiled under the guise of Western European culture and values. TWP also believes that white people—defined as “the descendants of indigenous Europeans”—should dominate the nation’s political, economic, and social spheres.

Continue reading Knoxville Rejects White Nationalism

Questions for Sheriff Jones

by Ann Jefferson

Following up on John Stewart’s guest column on 287(g) in the online News Sentinel of July 3, I would like to pose the question to Sheriff Jones: Why the urgency to deputize the Knox County Sheriff’s Office personnel to carry out federal responsibilities? As a citizen and taxpayer of the county I just can’t see the need for it.

I was one of a group of residents of Knox county who recently attempted to get some answers to troubling questions about the program 287(g) that, according to the ICE web site, has been approved for the county. Neither the sheriff nor his assistant was available to meet with us. Why is all this going on behind closed doors?

Continue reading Questions for Sheriff Jones

Is 287(g) representative of human liberty?

by Grant A. Mincy

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Photo Credit: Lee Sessions

Here we are, just a group of Knoxvillians rolling into the July 4th weekend. It’s June 30th at 9:30 am. Rain patters and dampens the Scruffy City. We stand across the street from the City County Building in the thick ambiance of Knoxville. Trains whistle forlorn on a gray morning, cars and city trucks hustle and bustle about while church bells chime in the background. There are 18 of us from all different walks of life. We stand in an inter-generational meeting, some of us people of faith, university professors, community college professors, Knox County school teachers, retirees, lawyers, laborers and even a young one donning a “Change the World” t-shirt. We have gathered on this humid and weepy morning out of collective concern for our great city and neighbors.

Continue reading Is 287(g) representative of human liberty?

The Declaration of Independence and the sheriff

by John G. Stewart

What a coincidence. Here we are, on July Fourth, celebrating the signing of our Declaration of Independence from a tyrannical British monarch who denied our colonial forebears their basic democratic rights and, at the same time, we discover that Knox County Sheriff Jimmy “J.J.” Jones has signed a secret agreement with U.S. Immigration & Customs Enforcement (ICE) that places at severe risk the democratic rights of thousands of our Knox County neighbors.

Granted, Jones is a bad reincarnation of King George III, but the denial of democratic rights we have witnessed in how he has gone about arranging for Knox County’s acceptance of the so-called 287(g) authority is a case-book example of arbitrary and non-democratic decision-making. Our founders declared they had had enough of the King’s “ … repeated injuries and usurpations.”

Continue reading The Declaration of Independence and the sheriff

Press statement: Knox County 287(g) MOA appears on ICE website

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE

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: https://www.ice.gov/doclib/foia/memorandumsofAgreementUnderstanding/KnoxCounty.pdf.

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.

Continue reading Press statement: Knox County 287(g) MOA appears on ICE website

Knox County 287(g) MOA appears on ICE website

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Photo Credit: Ralph Hutchison

It is our great disappointment to inform you that a 287(g) memorandum of agreement (MOA) signed by Knox County and ICE has appeared on the ICE website.  You can read the MOA here.

In the absence of any explanation to the Knoxville community by either ICE or Knox County Sheriff Jimmy “JJ” Jones, we assume this means that the 287(g) program is going forward.

Continue reading Knox County 287(g) MOA appears on ICE website

What is 287(g) and why do we oppose it?

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Photo Credit: Meghan Conley

by Meghan Conley and Fran Ansley

What is 287(g)?

287(g) is a voluntary program through which state and local law enforcement agencies can choose to have their officers trained and deputized to act as Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) agents. The program uses local resources to enforce federal immigration law.[i]

What is the history of 287(g) in Knox County?

Knox County Sheriff Jimmy “JJ” Jones first applied to join the 287(g) program in 2009. Immigrants’ rights advocates in Knoxville and beyond mounted a hard-fought campaign in opposition to the proposal, and federal authorities eventually denied the sheriff’s application in 2013. Many in Knox County remember Jones’ alarming and dehumanizing response to this rejection: “I 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.” In February 2017, Jones renewed his application. Local state and national groups have objected. ICE has not yet announced a decision. Update: We recently learned that a signed memorandum of agreement (MOA) between ICE and Knox County Sheriff Jimmy “JJ” Jones has appeared on the ICE website.  For more information, click here.

Continue reading What is 287(g) and why do we oppose it?