Thursday, March 17, 2011

In Federal Court, Plaintiffs Move to Suspend Nashville Immigration Program

Posted By on Thu, Mar 17, 2011 at 6:00 AM

Elliott Ozment, whose legal challenge questions the very legality of the Davidson County Sheriff's 287(g) agreement with U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement, filed a motion for an injunction in federal court today to stop Sheriff Daron Hall's deputies from screening inmates for immigration violations. The injunction is preliminary, pending a finding on whether ICE's 287(g) agreement with DCSO violates state and local law.

As you may recall earlier this month, Ozment was forced to add ICE as a defendant by Chancellor Carol McCoy, who agreed with Metro Department of Law attorney Lora Fox that the feds were an "indispensable party" to the lawsuit.

But U.S. Attorney Jerry Martin didn't think so and said as much in a letter to the parties. This action, he wrote, turned on a question of state and local law. McCoy, however, was unswayed. For common jurisdictional reasons, once the U.S. was added, the case was whisked into the U.S. District Court — though Ozment's suit still painstakingly avoids seeking any declaratory judgment against ICE.

The plaintiffs in the case — Daniel Renteria-Villegas, a citizen, and David Ernesto Gutierrez-Turcios, a lawful permanent resident — are seeking a suspension of the program because the 287(g) agreement, the suit says, violates state and local law. The Metro Charter divested the Davidson County Sheriff of his peacekeeping authority except for what is "necessary and incidental" to the keeping of the jails. By exceeding the authority granted him by the charter, Hall is violating a provision of the Immigration and Nationality Act that says immigration enforcement power may only be wielded to the extent consistent with state and local law, according to Ozment's suit.

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