We Stand With Our East Tennessee Immigrant Neighbors
And oppose legislation requiring local law enforcement to comply with ICE
April 11, 2018 (NASHVILLE, Tenn.) — Following last week’s forcible removal and subsequent arrest of 97 long-time Tennesseans in Morristown, Tennessee Democratic Party Chair Mary Mancini and the Hamblen County Democratic Party released the following statement:
“This is a time of anguish and chaos for the Tennessee families that have been ripped apart by last week’s raid, and we stand with our Bean Station neighbors, who are such an integral part of this community,” Chair Mancini and HCDP Chair John Litz said. “This should be the last time this heartbreak occurs — but right now, the Tennessee legislature is debating a bill that would require local law enforcement to comply with requests from U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE), effectively requiring neighbors to arrest neighbors. This negatively affects the trust built in communities by local law enforcement. Tennessee lawmakers have a responsibility to stand against this legislation and instead support comprehensive and humane laws regarding immigration and a pathway to citizenship.”
Background: Last week’s raid at a meatpacking plant was coordinated by ICE, the Internal Revenue Service, the Department of Homeland Security’s Homeland Security Investigations arm, and the Tennessee Highway Patrol. Workers were forced into vans and taken to a National Guard facility without so much as an interview, causing panic to ensue throughout the surrounding communities as families and churches scrambled to coordinate care for children and dependents. House Bill 2315/Senate Bill 2332, currently moving through the Tennessee House and Senate, would have disastrous implications for communities across the state. When local entities enter into a “Memorandum of Agreement” with ICE — like the one Knox County has now through the 287(g) program — ICE can send down “detainers,” or directives to local law enforcement officials to arrest people ICE is targeting. These arrests can be made on behalf of ICE without a standard of proof or probable cause, raising deeply unsettling concerns about the constitutionality of this arrangement. Additionally, every local law enforcement officer authorized to act on ICE’s behalf is required to go through training — the cost burden for which is unclear.