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Latino Daily News

Tuesday February 15, 2011

American Citizen Detained Twice on Immigration Challenges Sheriff’s Powers

American Citizen Detained Twice on Immigration Challenges Sheriff’s Powers

Photo: Davidson County Court

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An American citizen who has been held twice as an illegal immigrant in Davidson County Tennessee has filed a lawsuit to challenge the Sheriffs right to do so.

Daniel Renteria-Villegas, a 19-year-old Portland, Or born man has a valid Tennessee drivers license, passport, birth certificate, and Social Security number, yet he has been incarcerated twice.

Daniel has filed a lawsuit arguing that Sheriff Daron Hall is not legally eligible to participate in the immigration enforcement program. The argument lies in Metro’s 1963 charter, which stripped the sheriff’s office of most of its law-enforcement powers, prohibits jailers from immigration enforcement. This latest challenge, by attorney Elliott Ozment, may be the biggest threat to one of Hall’s hallmark programs.

On February 25, a Davidson County Judge will likely render a decision on whether or not to grant a temporary injunction that would stop Davidson County from enforcing immigration laws under the 287(g) program.

The 287(g) program is an agreement between the federal government and local agencies that allows police and jailers to interrogate, serve warrants on, collect evidence, prepare charges and detain people suspected of being in the United States illegally. At least 70 such agreements exist across the nation. Davidson County entered into that agreement in 2007.
Dewey Branstetter, a local attorney who is chairman of the Metro Charter Revision Commission and whose father, Cecil, helped write the charter, was intrigued by Ozment’s argument.

“Clearly, in 1963 when the charter was adopted, the intent was to have all law enforcement functions in the police department, leaving really just the jail and serving of warrants … with the sheriff’s office,” Branstetter said. “I will say it is a very interesting argument that is certainly worthy of consideration.”