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Sheriff J.J. Jones Applies for 287(g)

February 21, 2017

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Sheriff J.J. Jones reapplies for the 287(g) agreement in February of 2017.

He was previously denied in 2013, to which he responded that he would "stack these violators like cordwood in the Knox County Jail" until his request for 287(g) was approved (2).

(1) J.J. Jones Application for 287(G)

American Civil Liberties Union Raises Concerns

March 31, 2017

As the 287(g) program expands across the country, the ACLU—along with other allied groups and individuals—send a letter to the Office for Civil Rights and Civil Liberties in the Department of Homeland Security to express their concerns about the 287(g) program in general and its implementation in 37 specific jurisdictions.

Knox County, TN was one of the jurisdictions. The ACLU notes the Knox County Detention Facility's previous problems with overcrowding, abuse allegations, and inadequate medical care (6).

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(6) ACLU Letter to DHS 2017

Allies of Knoxville's Immigrant Neighbors Discovers Application

April 14, 2017

As soon as AKIN learns of Jones' renewed application, they seek a " meeting with the Sheriff to discuss the renewed application and to [urge] him to reconsider" (7). They are told that the Sheriff sees no reason to meet with them.

No 287g! No Deportations! March and Action

May 1, 2017

The Tennessee Immigrant and Refugee Rights Coalition, AKIN, and Comite Popular de Knoxville, and other organizations host a march against deportations and Sheriff Jones' 287(g) application "to show our power, that we are here to stay, and that we will fight for our families" (15).


(15) No Más Deportaciones Action


(19) AKIN 287g photo

Sheriff Jones speaks publicly for the first time about his recent 287(g) application. He says, "If you're here illegally, and you're a law abiding citizen, you'll never know 287(g) exists." He also reports that there's a "money-saving aspect" for the taxpayers, as "we were probably keeping them like 30-40 days in our jail before ICE made that determination." He says "those 30-40 days cost tax payers $100 a day."

Meghan Conley with Allies of Knoxville's Immigrant Neighbors, on the other hand, expresses fears of racial profiling. She says "people are deeply concerned I get phone calls I get emails I get texts all the time, people are worried about check points" although Sheriff Jones argues that racial profiling is not his intention (16).


(16) Knox County Sheriff Speaks on 287(g) Application, Mayoral Run; Photo captured from video

May 3, 2017

Sheriff Jones Speaks on 287(g)

287(g) Community Briefing

May 20, 2017


The Allies of Knoxville's Immigrant Neighbors hosts a community briefing for others to learn more about Knox County's recent application for 287(g), discuss their previous work to oppose 287(g), and share how others can get involved (8).

(8) 287(g) Community Briefing 2017; Photo Credit: Meghan Conley

Know News Editorial: Sheriff Promises to Deliver if ICE Does

May 21, 2017

An editorial in the Knox News Sentinel draws attention to Sheriff Jones' previous statements that he would "stack violators like cordwood" and "deliver 1,800 undocumented immigrants a year to ICE." The article urges readers to remember these statements in light of Sheriff Jones' more recent comments. More recently, he reports that he will not round up undocumented residents and promises to not misuse the 287(g) program (68).

ICE Approves 287(g)

June 9, 2017

On June 9, 2017, ICE approves Knox County's request for Delegation of Authority under Section 287(g) of the Immigration and Nationality Act, 8 U.S.C. 1357(g). The Memorandum of Agreement is valid until June 2019. You can read the Memorandum of Agreement here.

Note: The legality of this contract is later questioned, after it is revealed that the Knox County Sheriff's Office did not receive the proper approval to enter the contract. To read about this news, click here.

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(3) 2017 287(g) Approval + MOA

Signed 287(g) Memorandum of Agreement Appears on ICE Website

June 28, 2017

The Allies of Knoxville's Immigrant Neighbors find the signed 287(g) Memorandum of Agreement (MOA) on the Immigration and Customs Enforcement website. They note: "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" (9).

Tennessee Immigrant and Refugee Rights Coalition Statement

June 28, 2017

The Tennessee Immigrant and Refugee Rights Coalition releases a statement on Knox County's 287(g) contract that includes the following:

"Sheriff J.J. Jones has a troubling record of civil rights violations, including pledging to "stack [immigrants] like cordwood" in his jails. That Knox County will acting as federal immigration enforcement agents is devastating news for all residents of Knox County, especially immigrant families who will be living under unthinkable fear of their local law enforcement. All residents suffer when critical law enforcement resources are diverted to separating families and public safety is undermined by eroded trust between immigrants and police. 

While the program won't formally go into effect for a few months, our work to ensure the disastrous program is short-lived in Knox County begins today. We'll be working with our members and partners to monitor Sheriff Jones and his deputies, defend the rights of residents, and make sure that no other county follows Knox's lead by applying for 287(g). Stay tuned for ways you can take action" (110).

WBIR Reports on New 287(g) Contract

June 29, 2017

WBIR reports on the recently signed MOA. 

They note Sheriff Jones' previous statement: "I promise to stay on top of this. I'm not about ruining lives, or ruining families or seeing how many people we can deport. That's not what this is about." He also previously said he believed the agreement will save taxpayers money. However, he declines to make an updated statement until he receives more details.


Representatives from AKIN argue that 287(g) will cost taxpayers more and create a divide between immigrant families and law enforcement (10).

Knox News Reports on New 287(g) Contract

June 29, 2017

Knox News Sentinel reports on the recently signed MOA. 

They note that the application estimates "the 287(g) program will allow the county to process and turn in up to 1,800 immigrants who are living in the country illegally to ICE a year." 

They also draw attention to Knox County's new participation in the Secure Communities program. A few days after signing the 287(g) agreement, Knox County "became the first county in the state to participate in another ICE program that uses new biometric sharing technology to help federal officials identify illegal immigrants easier." This program allows Knox County so check fingerprints of arrestees against the FBI's database and the Department of Homeland Security's database (11). 

AKIN seeks to speak with Sheriff Jones

June 30, 2017

One June 30th, 18 concerned community members enter the City County Building seeking a meeting with Sheriff Spangler. They are met with 8 officers who will not allow them into the office. Meghan Conley asks the Lieutenant why they cannot proceed, and he tells her it is because there are too many people in their party. 


The group is given memo paper to write individual concerns in a note for the sheriff. Conley asks the Lieutenant about the acceptance of the 287(g) program, and he responds, "Ma'am, you probably know more about the program than any of us." Grant A. Mincy chronicles this interaction in an article on AKIN's website (13).

Knox News Guest Column: The Declaration of Independence and the Sheriff

July 3, 2017

John G. Stewart, a member of the church of the Savior, U.C.C and a former executive at TVA, writes a guest column for the Knox News Sentinel. He expresses concerns about the lack of transparency surrounding 287(g), the dozens of people arrested for minor traffic infractions who will be subjected to the deportation process, and the Sheriff's refusal to meet with community residents. He also draws comparisons between Sheriff Jones and King George III (22).

Knox News Guest Column: Questions about 287(g) Program Remain

July 8, 2017

Ann Jefferson follows up on John Stewart's guest column with additional questions about the 287(g) program. She asks:

"Why the urgency to deputize KCSO personnel to carry out federal responsibilities? As a citizen and taxpayer of the county, I just can't see the need for it."

"Why is all this going on behind closed doors?"

"Why is our sheriff the only one in Tennessee seeking this closer relationship with ICE? Why did Davidson County, home to Nashville, drop the 287(G) program after five years?" (26).

UT Professor and AKIN Activist Begins Requesting Records Related to 287(g)

August 1, 2017

Meghan Conley, a Sociology professor at the University of Tennessee, begins requesting documents related to the 287(g) program under the Tennessee Public Records law (63).

Note: She is often met with denials and later sues the Knox County Sheriff over these requests. To read the next update regarding Conley's records requests, click here.

AKIN meets with County Commissioners

August 29, 2017

AKIN posts a "Guide to meet with your county commissioner about 287(g)" on their website and asks people to report back about what they learned (13).

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