One Arrested, Three Cited Protesting 287(g) in Knoxville

Originally Published at WBIR

A protest Tuesday led to several people being taken into custody.

Protesters were voicing their concerns over a program called 287(g) that the Knox County's Sheriff's Office is considering for inmates here. It's a partnership with federal authorities to check an immigrant's legal status.

Tuesday afternoon, protesters, including illegal immigrants, protested near the sheriff's office. Some are traveling across the country spreading a message they call "No papers, no fear."

They joined East Tennesseans, including an undocumented man named Alejandro Guizar. He was one of several people detained for blocking the intersection of Gay Street and Hill Avenue.


"I'm not afraid to follow the legacy of Ghandi and Martin Luther King, Jr. to use non-violent methods to change our policy in our community for the better!" exclaimed Guizar as he was being arrested.

Three others at the protest received citations.

Some protesters say 287(g) reminds them of Arizona's law that allows officers to check the status of anyone they suspect of being in the country illegally.

Sheriff Jones repeated what he has said in the past, that the program would only apply to inmates in Knox County, but he says he is still waiting for more guidance from the federal government before sitting down to hear the concerns of the immigrant community in person.
"I know that he's waiting for that, but i think it's very important to be talking to the people. Especially, there are a lot of people who are allies of the movement who are U.S. citizens who are really saying, 'You need to talk t oyour community,' especially because he is elected," said Miguel Carpizo with the Tennessee Immigrant Refugee Rise Coalition.

Knoxville police say the protesters did not get a permit or notify city officials about their plans.

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At least one person has been arrested and three people were cited at a protest in downtown Knoxville Tuesday afternoon.

The group is speaking out against the 287(g) Immigration Program, that would allow officials to run any inmate suspected of being foreign-born through an immigration database, and then hold them for possible deportation. 

The program is not currently being used in Knox County, but the sheriff's office was considering it.

The protest was planned to send a message to Sheriff JJ Jones, and took place in front of the City-County Building, where his office is located.  The group then marched down the street. 

A 10News crew saw at least one person from that group being arrested at the intersection of Gay St. and Hill Ave. in downtown Knoxville. 

This is how the group describes their mission in a press release about the event: 

Undocumented immigrants, including one from Knoxville, Tennessee, will be speaking out in front of Sheriff J.J. Jones' office about the harm that programs such as 287(g) and Secure Communities cause the Knoxville community. These two programs promote collaboration between local law enforcement and federal immigration authorities, leading to increased separation of families, eroding trust between immigrant and police enforcement. One of the speakers will be Alejandro Guizar, 19, an undocumented immigrant in deportation proceedings living in Knoxville, Tennessee, who was placed in removal while walking home from a graduation party, and continues fighting his deportation even after all criminal charges were dropped.

"It's not that I'm not scared about speaking publicly about my story, but sometimes we have to face fear to let others know the situations that we are facing every day as immigrant communities. The Sheriff has not made it clear when he will meet with us, has refused to share information with the community, and he needs to hear from undocumented immigrants living in his county, and those who have experienced the implementation of programs like Secure Communities and 287(g) around the country," said Guizar.

Guizar and supporters of the immigrant community also urge Sheriff Jones to welcome and listen to the 'No Papers No Fear' riders, a national delegation of undocumented people and allies who left Phoenix, Arizona on July 29th, travelling across the south to rally the migrant community to overcome fear and organize to challenge anti-immigrant policies.

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