Tenn. sheriff's office will stop housing ICE detainees, ending longtime contract

Sheriff Daron Hall said the county will no longer host detainees for the federal government, a practice started in 1996

Kate Feldman
New York Daily News

DAVIDSON COUNTY, Tenn. — A sheriff’s office in Tennessee will end its contract with the federal government to house ICE detainees.

Davidson County Sheriff Daron Hall announced Tuesday that his department will end the practice, which has been in place since 1996.

The Davidson County Sheriff's Office plans to end its contract with ICE.
The Davidson County Sheriff's Office plans to end its contract with ICE. (Photo/AP)

“The continued confusion and hyper-political nature of this issue has become a distraction from sheriff’s office priorities,” Hall said, according to The Tennessean. “The number of individuals detained as a result of this contract is less than 1% of overall jail bookings; however, I spend an inordinate amount of my time debating its validity.”

The current contract, as it stands, pays the city’s government in exchange for holding federal detainees in custody, including some for Immigration and Customs Enforcement. But immigration advocates have called it a “rent-a-bed agreement” and called on the city to end the contract.

The split, critics said, will also create stronger distinction between local and federal authorities.

The Tennessee Immigrant and Refugee Rights Coalition applauded the move.

“At a critical moment for immigrant families, TIRRC is proud to work alongside our engaged community members and local leaders who believe in making our city safer and more welcoming for everyone who calls Nashville home,” policy director Lisa Sherman-Nikolaus said in a statement.

“Sheriff Hall’s decision to end the jail’s rent-a-bed agreement with ICE is an important first step toward disentangling our jail from civil immigration enforcement and ensuring that our city is not complicit in tearing families apart.”

Mayor John Cooper credited Hall with making the right decision.

“Nashville’s local law enforcement agencies should not use Metro’s limited resources to fulfill the responsibilities of federal government agencies,” he said, according to News 5. “As I’ve stated before, we must find appropriate ways for Metro agencies and employees to interact with federal immigration authorities in a manner that respects the separate roles of federal and local governments while also protecting the safety and well-being of everyone in our immigrant communities.”

But some, including Senator Marsha Blackburn, opposed the canceled contract.

“Lawless sanctuary cities make our communities dangerous, and this policy is irresponsible,” the Republican lawmaker tweeted. “It’s a sad day when law enforcement prioritizes politics over public safety. This decision is a win for one group — criminal illegal immigrants.”

McClatchy-Tribune News Service

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