A look at the role of ICE agents and the rights of immigrants during typical encounters. Nashville Tennessean
A city immigration task force issued a series of recommendations Friday that would require schools, courts and other city departments to report all contact from federal immigration officials to the Nashville mayor’s office.
The task force, formed in October, had two months to create a blueprint for the city’s interactions with federal immigration authorities. It was convened, in part, as a response to a series of of controversial actions by U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement agents in Nashville.
In one instance, ICE agents shot at a Mexican national in an Antioch parking lot in September. In another, neighbors in Hermitage aided a man and his son who sat outside their home in a pickup truck for hours as ICE agents sought to apprehend them in July. The agents eventually left.
In August, reports that Nashville’s probation director and his staff were working with Immigration and Customs Enforcement agents to arrest and detain individuals under probation supervision prompted some Metro Council Members to call for an investigation.
The immigration task force recommended every city department issue monthly reports that would be made public by the Mayor’s Office of New Americans of interactions with federal immigration officials.
City departments would also be required to report any requests by federal authorities to change their policies or procedures. Any communication with federal immigration officials that was not routine, or wasn’t in line with policies, should be reported as soon as possible — and no later than three business days.
Mayor John Cooper said in a news release that he will “carefully review the task force’s report as we consider policy decision related to federal immigration enforcement actions moving forward.”
The 10-member task force found a limited number of city departments and offices had created any formal policy for how to respond to requests from federal immigration authorities, and most departments had no policy requiring communicating those requests to the mayor’s office or the public.
Each department should “adopt a uniform policy for reporting about such communications to the Mayor’s office,” the report said.
Many departments have never received a known request from immigration authorities, the task force noted.
Those that have include the police department, the sheriff’s office, state trial courts, General Sessions Courts and, potentially, Metro Nashville Public Schools.
In October, school district officials described “two men in official-looking uniforms” ”stating that they were government agents” with “official-looking IDs” arrived at Una Elementary School seeking student records. Immigration officials denied any of its agents had approached the school.
The five-page task force report outlined existing policies about interactions with federal immigration authorities within some departments, including General Sessions Court, which issued monthly reports to ICE. State trial courts provide names, inmate ID numbers and a date of birth in response to ICE requires.
Unless a subpoena is served, school officials are barred from providing information about a student’s undocumented status without permission from the student’s parents, the report noted.
The report mirrors, in part, an executive order by former Mayor David Briley that Cooper rescinded in October, shortly before appointing the task force. The executive order outlined that Metro departments and employees report any requests received from U.S. immigration authorities. It also called on state lawmakers to repeal an anti-sanctuary law enacted by state lawmakers that went into effect this year.
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