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.
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).
Continue reading Local impact of new Tennessee laws
By Meghan Conley
I was recently honored to receive the 2018 Oak Ridge Environmental Peace Alliance Peacemaker Award, alongside four other women who work for peace in our community.
The truth is, though, that I find it very hard to feel like a peacemaker these days. I find it hard to understand what it means to make peace during these times of war. And I do feel that we are at war right now—we are at war over ideas, values, and meaning. And maybe we always have been. A few years ago, Ai-Jen Poo, of the National Domestic Workers Alliance, said that “we are in the fight of our lives for the soul of this country.” I believed that then and I believe it even more strongly today.
In my work with AKIN, I wake up every day and bear witness to this war. Not as someone directly affected, because I am one of the privileged few who through no fault or doing of my own happened to be born in the United States. No, I bear witness as a bystander to the chaos of our immigration system, to its indifference to pain and suffering, and to the injustices of a global system built on vulnerability, exploitation, and racism.
By Meghan Conley
Cross-posted at The Institute for Research and Education on Human Rights (IREHR).
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.
We are asking AKIN friends and allies to meet with their county commissioners about 287(g). Following are some guidelines for your consideration.
First, set up your meeting:
1. Call or email your commissioner and ask for a meeting on 287(g)
2. Identify 1-2 people who share your concerns and who will join you at this meeting (we can help with this)
Next, figure out your goals for the meeting (here are our suggestions):
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?
by Grant A. Mincy
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.
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.”
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.
- Knox Co. Sheriff approved for ICE partnership; only agency in TN
Knox County approved for controversial ICE program