A Knoxville Woman Called 911. Instead of Getting Help, She Was Arrested and Placed in Immigration Detention for Months.

In November 2020, Maira Oviedo-Granados of Knoxville, Tennessee, known as 911 from inside a locked bed room along with her three younger kids close by. Her boyfriend got here dwelling after beating a person he thought she was having an affair with and she or he feared for her security, alleging to a dispatcher that her boyfriend was armed and had tried to seize her.

The police arrived and as a substitute arrested Oviedo-Granados for easy assault, as her boyfriend alleged she had struck him throughout an argument and officers noticed marks on his face. Then, due to Oviedo-Granados’ citizenship standing, authorities despatched her to an immigration detention facility in Louisiana. She was there from November 2020 to early January 2021 and saved aside from her three kids, per reporting by Angela Dennis and Tyler Whetstone for the Knoxville Information Sentinel.

Now, Oviedo-Granados is suing over Knox County’s “illicit immigration enforcement” program that landed her in detention for months.

In 2018, Knox County signed a contract with Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) that allowed its regulation enforcement companies to implement federal immigration legal guidelines. Beneath Part 287(g) of the Immigration and Nationality Act, the Division of Homeland Safety could forge agreements with state and native regulation enforcement companies and deputize officers to hold out sure duties usually carried out by federal immigration brokers. For instance, state and native regulation enforcement officers could start deportation proceedings and switch noncitizens to ICE custody.

Oviedo-Granados fell sufferer to the county’s 287(g) program attributable to her standing as an asylum seeker. She arrived within the U.S. in 2014 from Honduras and filed for asylum on the idea of gender-based violence in her dwelling nation (a declare that’s nonetheless pending). Regardless of calling 911 a few accomplice she mentioned had damage her earlier than, Oviedo-Granados was arrested.

Such 287(g) packages are controversial amongst immigration advocates attributable to their tendency to focus on nonthreatening people, emboldening officers to arrest migrants over minor, nonviolent offenses. In Gwinnett County, Georgia, virtually two-thirds of 287(g) detainees had been booked for visitors infractions. The American Civil Liberties Union of Tennessee discovered that “the overwhelming majority of the time, deportations by Davidson County’s 287(g) program had been triggered by minor, typically traffic-related offenses.” The county wasted sources to deport low-level offenders over “driving with out a license, trespassing, and fishing with out a license.”

Enforcement has additionally raised questions on racial profiling in some components of the nation. In Alamance County, North Carolina, “sheriff’s deputies arrange checkpoints at entrances to Latino neighborhoods” and “Latino drivers had been as much as 10 occasions extra more likely to be stopped than non-Latino drivers,” in accordance to the American Immigration Council. Latino drivers had been stopped at a equally disproportionate charge in Maricopa County, Arizona, the place Sheriff Joe Arpaio’s deputies carried out common “sweeps” in Latino neighborhoods. Federal authorities terminated each counties’ 287(g) packages following Division of Justice investigations.

Setting apart these basic points, Knox County’s 287(g) program could have additionally been illegally instituted. Tennessee state code permits native regulation enforcement companies to enter federal immigration enforcement agreements “upon approval by the governing legislative physique.” The Knox County Fee could be the approving physique on this case, however former Knox County Sheriff Jimmy Jones did not get the fee’s approval earlier than signing a contract with ICE in 2018.

Jones beforehand requested ICE to signal a 287(g) settlement with Knox County in 2013, however the company rejected his request on the idea of budgetary constraints. “I’ll proceed to implement these federal immigration violations with or with out the assistance” of ICE, Jones mentioned then. “If want be, I’ll stack these violators like cordwood within the Knox County Jail till the suitable federal company responds.”

Jones and different native officers have insisted that Knox County’s now-active 287(g) program didn’t want approval from the Knox County Fee. Randy Nichols, who served as particular counsel for the Sheriff’s Workplace throughout Jones’ tenure, mentioned the settlement did not require fee approval as a result of it did not quantity to immigration enforcement. Immigration legal professionals interviewed by Whetstone disagree with that declare.

Oviedo-Granados alleges that she was detained with out an ICE interview or warrant and was refused entry to her legal professional or a translator. Her lawsuit additional claims {that a} Knox County Basic Classes Justice of the Peace ordered her launch after 12 hours. The straightforward assault expenses in opposition to Oviedo-Granados have been dropped, and she or he is scheduled to attend immigration courtroom proceedings within the spring as her asylum declare is processed.

Oviedo-Granados’ lawsuit notes that the “accidents and civil rights violations inflicted on her are typical of greater than 1,000 individuals” detained below Knox County’s 287(g) program. Native regulation enforcement companies throughout the nation could make arrests like this below the guise of defending federal immigration regulation, however that enforcement typically comes on the expense of true justice and neighborhood belief.