A new report and survey released by a national Hispanic advocacy group suggests Davidson County’s controversial 287(g) program undermines public safety and exacerbates the fear Nashville’s Latino community has of law enforcement.
The federal 287(g) program, first implemented in Nashville beginning in April 2007, authorizes local governments to screen arrested individuals to detect illegal immigrants before beginning deportation proceedings. So far, more than 7,700 individuals have been processed through the program in Nashville.
Davidson County Sheriff Daron Hall has been an outspoken supporter of the program, arguing the approach has been effective in decreasing crime among illegal immigrants.
But a report from the National Council of La Raza claims 287(g) has in fact been ineffective in decreasing crime. The study says the program has too often led to the arrests of people who have no criminal background and the detention of individuals for offenses such as traffic stops and playing loud music.
The report goes further, suggesting Nashville’s Latino residents are often deterred from reporting criminal incidents to law enforcement officials because of potential consequences for doing so.
A survey conducted in Davidson County found that 42 percent of Latino respondents said they knew of a crime but had not reported it to Metro police out of fear of deportation.
The survey also found 54 percent of Latinos in Davidson County would not report a crime altogether, compared with 27 percent of African-Americans who would not. According to the report, the Latino and black respondents share similar economic backgrounds and living situations.
“The real significant finding of this report is to shed light on the impact of the program on fear of the community, and the undermining of public safety for all Davidson County residents,” said Stephen Fotopulos, executive director of the Tennessee Immigration and Refugee Rights Coalition, during a teleconference with reporters.
A message left with the sheriff's office was not immediately returned.