The 287(g) policy has become

a perverted version of its original intent

(Nashville)  by Jan Snider

She looked so tiny holding the calloused hand of her young uncle, just 5 years old and excited about starting kindergarten. But as she shuffled down the polished floors of the church hallway toward our immigration legal clinic, there was worry in her big brown eyes.

She didn’t know when she would see her daddy again. He was picked up for a broken taillight and locked in detention, on track for removal from the U.S. because he was undocumented. Her mother, a U.S. citizen, had long ago abandoned the family. Her father was going to be deported and she was, most likely, going to be placed in state custody.

Suddenly, thoughts of new school shoes and fresh crayons were replaced with fear and uncertainty. These are the same feelings that so many of our clients at Tennessee Justice for Our Neighbors face every day. When Immigration and Customs Enforcement gave local law enforcement the power to act as federal immigration agents, a community began to feel hunted.

A policy known as 287(g) has forced them into the shadows.

Davidson County Sheriff Daron Hall persuaded the citizenry of Nashville in 2007 that 287(g) would make us a safer community by aiding in the deportation of “criminal illegal aliens, drug dealers, thieves and violent individuals.” But, as it unfolded, 80 percent of those processed for deportation were originally arrested for minor violations. Something as simple as fishing without a license or failure to use a turn signal suddenly resulted in deportations that ripped families apart. What was intended to be a policy to protect our citizenry from the most violent criminals has turned it into a homegrown remedy for our nation’s broken immigration laws.

To read more of this op ed written by Nashville JFON Coordinator, Jan Snider: