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602 S. Gay Street
Knoxville, TN 37902
I read Paige Huntoon’s article on ICE in the July 11 edition [“ICE Status Warms Up,” Citybeat] and have been following this immigration issue for some time. I could not attend the meeting so thank you for reporting on it. There is one huge aspect to this I have not seen much reporting on: The Money. Our sheriff has said the jails are overcrowded and we need to build more space as well as a diversion facility for non-violent type offenders who may need more services than a jail can offer. Where is there space to house these ICE detainees while in Knox County custody? Who is going to pay for this? Federal Funds from ICE? Will Knox County taxpayers be forced to pay for a new jail to make room for an influx of detainees? Federal funds may pay for parts of this program, but exactly how much will taxpayers be on the hook for? If ICE pays Knox County by the number of detainees then of course the Sheriffs dept. will be motivated to arrest as many people as possible.
Please look into this a little deeper, follow the money and tell us how much this is going to cost. Nashville ended their 287g program, so there should be an accounting of how much money was spent, how ICE pays for it and how much local tax payers had to pay.
It seems unlikely Sheriff Jones is doing this out of the goodness of his heart, a belief that all of the really terrible international criminals that are in Knox County will beat a hasty retreat or be jailed/deported. I believe he is doing it for the money and it is a matter of getting a new jail built. If there will be more “criminals” to house and ICE will pay for it, then County Commission is likely to go along, no questions asked. I don’t want my money spent on this. Federal dollars are our tax dollars also.