As true now as always, details are thorny, incendiary little bastards. Little wonder then that the popular maxim lumps the devil, of all people, in with the likes of fine print, tax loopholes and other legal tropes. Who else could stand such company?
In the case of Davidson County Sheriff Daron Hall's most recent media snow job, keeping the devil at bay might be a harder task than originally envisioned.
In his comments to The City Paper, Hall told reporter Joey Garrison that a proposed charter amendment "clarifying" the responsibilities of his office is in no way related to 287(g), the controversial federal immigrant detention program that costs taxpayers more money than the good sheriff is willing to admit, and is so ineffectual that it's being phased out in lieu of another, similar program called Secure Communities.
And of course, the timing of the amendment has got nothing to do with an impending decision by the Tennessee Supreme Court that will determine whether or not the city violated the 1963 Metro Charter by tasking DCSO, instead of the Nashville Police Department, with 287(g)'s myriad duties. Nothing at all.
But are Hall and Metro legal director Saul Solomon correct in their assessment that the amendment is divorced from the increasingly radioactive political football of 287(g)? It turns out that if we suss out the pointy-eared, goateed little fucker from the charter amendment itself, we can see that the details rend the claims of these city officials into a molten vat of falsehoods located somewhere between the third and fifth circles of Hell. (Or maybe just the Cumberland River.)
From Garrison's piece:
Saul Solomon, director of the Metro Department of Law, told The City Paper Friday he plans to file legislation for a charter amendment that would more clearly spell out three authorities of the sheriff’s office: the booking of people after they’re arrested, providing security at court and taking DNA samples of inmates.
“The sheriff has undertaken over the years a number of initiatives that arguably can be viewed under the purview of the police rather than the sheriff,” Solomon said, adding that the legal department still believes the sheriff has the “current authority” to carry out the three items outlined in the amendment.
Hall said the proposed charter amendment originated from an effort to clear up “non-287(g)” concerns. Over the years, Metro has transferred various responsibilities and duties from the police department to the sheriff’s office, he said.
“I suspect the lawyers and the legal department want to make sure that whatever this sensation is about 287(g), when that case is resolved, that we get this other stuff cleaned up as well,” Hall said.
Think what you will about the comments regarding the Supreme Court case; time will tell on that one.
But the language in the charter amendment (found here) explicitly outlines more than a mere three new superpowers to be given to DCSO, including a little number called "interrogation." So in effect, the amendment will dovetail perfectly with the current 287(g) memorandum of agreement between the city and Immigration and Customs Enforcement (bold emphasis Pith's), thus inoculating the city against any pesky Supreme Court rulings it doesn't agree with:
The participating DCSO personnel are authorized to perform the following functions as allowed
by 287(g) of the INA for the Detention Model: The power and authority to interrogate any person believed to be an alien as to his right to be or remain in the United States (INA § 287(a)(l) and 8 C.F.R. § 287.5(a)(1)) and to process for immigration violations any removable alien or those aliens who have been arrested for violating a Federal, State, or local offense;
The devil is in the details, gang. Is it getting hot enough for you?