top of page



United We Dream Launches Oppose 287(g) Campaign

January 4, 2019


United We Dream launches an oppose 287(g) campaign aimed at urging 78 sheriffs, including Knox County's Sheriff Spangler to not renew their 287(g) contracts. They state that "287(g) contracts are the easiest way for the Deportation Force to plant itself in our cities and counties to separate families" (56).

They launch a petition for each 287(g) contract up for renewal.

(56) United We Dream Oppose 287(g)

#Stop287g Kick-Off Rally

April 4, 2019


AKIN organizes a protest outside of Knoxville's City Council building in opposition to the 287(g) program. They invite a public school teacher, a minister, a representative from the Tennessee Immigrant and Refugee Rights Coalition, and an AKIN steering committee member to speak about the impact of 287(g) on their community (52).

(53) Immigrant rights groups to deliver hundreds of letters against ICE partnership; Photo Credit: Calvin Mattheis

Moira Connelly, the co-chair of AKIN, says "we're letting them know we care and that we'll be watching and asking (that they not re-enter the agreement)" (53).


(53) Immigrant rights groups to deliver hundreds of letters against ICE partnership; Photo Credit; Calvin Mattheis

AKIN Delivers 500 Postcards to the Sheriff's Office

April 5, 2019


(52) Press Coverage #Stop287g Kickoff Event; Photo Credit: AKIN


(52) Press Coverage #Stop287g Kickoff Event; Photo Credit: AKIN

AKIN delivers over 500 postcards to Sheriff Spangler's Office. The postcards are filled with messages of opposition from members of the community (52).

Sheriff and ICE Strategize Response to End 287(g) Protests

April 5, 2019

In response to the April 4th protest against 287(g), KCSO asks ICE for help in responding to community opposition of the program. An ICE representative responds with statistics and a math formula that will show "claims of racial profiling are baseless." He also states: "No amount of statistical data is going to satisfy the activist groups who want the program eliminated, but hopefully the sheriff is aware he's dealing with a loud minority. Many of the activist groups active there toward that goal openly concede online to be affiliated with Antifa and other extremist groups so the sheriff may want to highlight that as well as well that these are not persons who represent the mainstream views of Knox County" (47).

Screen Shot 2021-12-30 at 11.33.16 AM.png

(47) Sheriff and ICE Strategize Response to End 287(g) Protests

Screen Shot 2021-12-30 at 11.33.33 AM.png

(47) Sheriff and ICE Strategize Response to End 287(g) Protests

UT Professor and AKIN Activist Sues Knox Sheriff for Records on 287(g)

April 25, 2019


Meghan Conley, a Sociology professor at the University of Tennessee, files a lawsuit in Chancery Court under the state Sunshine Law. She began requesting public records regarding Knox County's participation with ICE in August 2017 and was often met with denials with "little or no legal justification provided." According to the lawsuit, "the denials ranged from technical arguments over wording of requests to contradictory statements on whether records existed." The lawsuit "asks a judge to force the release of the records and place KCSO under a court order to comply with all future requests" (63).

To read about the next update in this case, click here.

(63) UT professor and AKIN activist sues Knox sheriff for records on 287(g) deal with ICE; Photo submitted to Knox News Sentinel

Conley Sues

AKIN Hosts Mock ICE on Trial Event

May 11, 2019

AKIN hosts a mock trial to talk about how 287(g) harms the Knoxville community. Fran Ansley, with AKIN, says that ICE has committed "crimes against community." She also says "we're dead serious today about the stories we are about to tell. We're pushing back against the entanglement of (ICE) with local police. We are unhappy about what we have seen growing as a stronger entanglement here in Knoxville" (54).


(54) Knox News: Knox immigrant allies held mock trial against ICE;

Photo Credit: Caitie McMekin

Knox County Comments on Conley's Lawsuit

May 16, 2019

Conley includes a chapter from her upcoming book in the lawsuit, which David Buuk, chief deputy law director for Knox County, "blast[s]." He states: "on its face this document is a political diatribe against the legislatively approved implementation of the 287(g) program." He also argues that "the petition does not state specifically... which documents she wants to order (the sheriff) to provide."

Andrew Fels, Conley's lawyer, disagrees with these statements, stating "scholars commonly study politically contentious issues." He says Conley did state specifically which documents she was seeking (64).

To read about the next update in this case, click here.

Knox CountyComments on Conley's Lawsut

Knox News Guest Column: God calls us to love all our neighbors,
and that means opposing 287(g) program 

May 22, 2019

Reverend John Gill, a pastor of Church of the Savior UCC, writes a guest column in the Knox News Sentinel. He outlines why the Christian faith encourages people to love thy neighbor, a principle that stands in opposition to the 287(g) program. He also says: "It’s time for people of good will to say, “Enough! We will not demonize or marginalize our neighbors. We will not divide families. We will not undermine our precious system of justice. We will not criminalize those coming to this country just seeking a better life like nearly all of our ancestors did before us. We will not abandon the principles of our nation and our various faiths; principles that call us to support, care for and even love our neighbors, especially those who are most vulnerable and most in need" (58).

Sheriff Spangler Comments on 287(g)

May 23, 2019


(44) Sheriff weighs job toll, concerns on civil rights;

Photo Credit: Farragut Rotary

At a meeting of the Farragut Rotary, Sheriff Spangler is asked about 287(g). He says: "I believe in this law because it makes our community safer. When we arrest someone, we first ask where they are from. If they can't provide it, an ICE (Immigration and Customs Enforcement) agent at the jail digs deeper. If they are from another country, they take control and they are out of our jail in 48 hours. But, our officers do not enforce 287(g). We don't knock on doors or look for illegal immigrants. We have enough to do without that. We come in contact with them if they commit a crime and are charged. We don't stop people in their cars because we think they may be an illegal immigrant. Right now we have 13 illegal immigrants in our jail out of a population of 1,500" (44).

Detention Bed Funding is Set at $60,568 for Next 12 Months

June 6, 2019

KCSO orders 904 detention beds from ICE for the next 12 months. The reimbursement rate remains at $67, making the total 12-month funding allocated for the detention bed contract $60,568 (48).

Screen Shot 2022-01-01 at 10.07.35 AM.png

(48) Detention Bed Funding is Set at $60,568 for Next 12 Months

Hearing on Conley's Open Records Lawsuit

June 10, 2019

The court begins to hear arguments on Conley's lawsuit. The arguments coalesce on whether or not the county can charge Conley to inspect the requested documents and whether records requests for "any and all" were too broad.

A 2008 state comptroller's report says "if the requester wants only to inspect the documents, there is to be no charge" (66). KCSO argues "it is unable to release certain documents without redaction, due to state law, but redacting takes time and costs hundreds of dollars" (65). Therefore, Conley would not be charged for inspection, but would be charged for redaction. Conley says she stopped requesting large numbers of documents for this reason.


State comptroller spokesman John Dunn says the records custodian must not charge for the preparation/redaction of documents for inspection. Tennessee Coalition of Open Government Executive Director Deborah Fisher says she is "stunned and disappointed" at the sheriff's department's insistence that they can charge for the labor of preparation to compile records for inspection. John Weaver, the Knox County Chancellor, reportedly found the county's arguments compelling (65).


To read about the next update in this case, click here. 

Conley 1

Knox News Guest Column: Knox County's 287(g) agreement with ICE
harms our community

June 26, 2019

Sarah Margaret Hutchinson, a steering committee member of Allies of Knoxville's Immigrant Neighbors, writes a guest column in the Knox News Sentinel. She discusses the increase in racial profiling caused by 287(g) agreements, citing reports from the Justice Department, ACLU, and Migration Policy Institute. She also argues that 287(g) causes additional legal risks for the county. She concludes by stating: "This controversial program does not better our community. Instead, it fractures relationships between law enforcement and minority communities, facilitates racial profiling, and is costly to the greater Knoxville community" (59).

Sheriff Spangler Renews 287(g)

June 28, 2019


Sheriff Spangler renews the 287(g) contract, stating "I believe the continuation of the Memorandum of Understanding, also known as the 287(g), is the best thing for Knox County and our citizens" (55).

(55) Knox News: Knox County renews controversial 287(g);

Photo Credit: Calvin Mattheis

TIRRC Condemns Sheriff Spangler's Decision to Renew 287(g)

July 1, 2019

Immediately following the renewal of 287(g), the Tennessee Immigrant and Refugee Rights Coalition urges people to condemn Sheriff Spangler's decision and urge him to cancel the 287(g) contract. They launch an email campaign in order to send him the message (57).


(56) TIRRC Condemns Sheriff Spangler

Lights for Liberty Rally

July 12, 2019


People fill the lawn of Krutch Park in downtown Knoxville protesting the mass detention of Central American migrants and family separation. The crowd also denounces Sheriff Spangler's collaboration with ICE through the 287(g), calling for an end to the 287(g) program and police-ICE collaboration. (60).

(60) Rally crowd denounces Knox Sheriff, ICE camps;

Photo Credit: Jessica Tezak

KCSO Cancels Steering Committee Meeting due to "Violent Activists"

July 18, 2019

Screen Shot 2022-01-01 at 11.18.27 AM.png

Sheriff Spangler requests to postpone/cancel the 2019 287(g) Steering Committee Meeting. He reports that the last meeting "degenerated into a shouting match" and expresses concern that "the activists that are opposed to the 287(g) program have recently become even more violent." He argues that KCSO cannot guarantee the safety of the meeting and refers to it as "pointless" (51).

Note: A 287(g) Steering Committee meeting does not occur in 2019. The Steering Committee Charter requires at least one public meeting per year. There is also no evidence of violence on behalf of activists opposing 287(g). 

(51) 2019 Steering Committee Meeting

Sheriff: Knox County Detention Center more than 250 inmates over capacity

October 3, 2019

Screen Shot 2021-12-30 at 11.23.46 AM.png

CBS repots that "for decades, Knox County has dealt with a chronic jail overcrowding problem." Sheriff Spangler tells commissioners that the county correction system is currently more than 250 beds short (46).

(46) Sheriff: Knox County Detention Center more than 250;

Photo captured from video

Detention Bed Contract Reimbursement Rate Raises to $83

November 26, 2019

ICE and KCSO renegotiate the rate in which KCSO is reimbursed for ICE detention bed space in the Knox County Jail. The rate raises from $67 per bed per day to $83 per bed per day (49).

Screen Shot 2022-01-01 at 10.34.20 AM.png

(49) Detention Bed Contract Reimbursement Rate Raises to $83

Knox Sheriff's Office Slammed for "Shameful" Record Keeping System

December 10, 2019

A judge for Conley's lawsuit presses a sheriff's official about why the department has "no centralized and easily searchable system to track documents related to its controversial participation in the 287(g) program." The judge states this makes it "nearly impossible to find documents without intensive and expensive searching."

The judge later asks why Conley's requests were "too vague." Mike Ruble, Knox County Sheriff Chief Counsel, replies that they required searching and compiling, which is not something the sheriff's office does for public records. The judge, John Weaver, is not pleased and says "unless they just strike it rich on the first request, they're out."

Deborah Fisher, the executive director of Tennessee Coalition for Open Government, says the Knox County Sheriff's Office's actions are "shameful" (67).

To read the next update in this case, click here.

Conley 2
bottom of page