The Tennessee Supreme Court issued a ruling Thursday stating that the Memorandum of Agreement between Metro and the U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement did not violate the Metro Charter or any state law.
The agreement authorized some certified deputies of the Davidson County Sheriff’s Office to perform certain immigration duties under the federal 287(g) program.
Daniel Renteria-Villegas, along with other plaintiffs, sued Metro and ICE last year claiming that DCSO deputies illegally arrested, detained and interrogated them while investigating their immigration status. The plaintiffs and their lawyer, immigration attorney Elliot Ozment, claimed those actions by the deputies exceeded the bounds of the sheriff’s office’s legal powers regarding the enforcement of laws.
In its ruling issued Thursday, the Supreme Court found that “[w]hile the Charter makes the Police Chief the ‘principal conservator of the peace,’ it does not expressly prohibit the Sheriff from engaging in all activities that could conceivably be considered ‘law enforcement.’ ”
Sheriff Daron Hall said of the ruling, “I never had any doubt about our authority when we entered into this agreement with the federal government in 2007. We, legally, processed just over 10,000 illegal aliens for removal in this county and reduced the percentage of illegal aliens arrested for crimes by 80 percent. The Supreme Court decision not only clears up this matter now, but will also help guide leaders of Nashville for years to come.”
In August, the sheriff’s office announced it would end its participation in the 287(g) program when the current MOA expires, which is set to happen next week. The sheriff’s office will instead operate under another federal program called Secure Communities.
Justice Sharon G. Lee wrote the opinion for the court. Click here to read the opinion in its entirety.
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