Nashville's Sheriff Pledges To Review Federal Cooperation If Immigration Enforcement Balloons

Feb 22, 2017

Daron Hall, who has been in office since 2002, says he will look at detainer requests on a more regular basis.
Credit Davidson County Sheriff's Office

The Davidson County sheriff says he'll more closely monitor the number of requests his office is getting from federal officials to hand over immigrants in custody. This comes after President Trump's administration detailed plans to increase deportation enforcement.

Last year, the sheriff's office in Nashville released about 600 of the 40,000 people arrested to the U.S. Immigrations and Customs Enforcement, or ICE. Despite criticism from activists, Sheriff Daron Hall has long defended his office's compliance. He points out that local law enforcement is not told why immigration officials want to detain someone — and he trusts their judgment at the moment, he says.

"I want Nashville to be welcoming as a city, but also I'm the leader in public safety. I have to be looked at as making sure our community is safe," he says. "If the federal government has information and tells me that they want to detain this person for reasons that I don't know, I think it's irresponsible for me to totally ignore that detainer. "

But starting this week, he will look at the number of detainer requests his office receives every day. He used to just look at a monthly report. And if that number increases dramatically, he says he will re-evaluate his office's involvement. 

For example, right now, a third of immigrants who come through the system are detained — a number he says he feels comfortable with. "If that starts to change, then I'm willing to sit down and talk about, 'Are there other alternatives to prioritize who to remove?' "

That might include asking the federal government to give more information about why it wants to detain people. Still, Hall says, he would not defy immigration requests altogether.

"People who are going to be criminally involved in our community and in the country illegally — by and large, I don't think those people need to stay here," he says.

Any major changes to immigration policies could take years to implement, Hall says.