July 7, 2011
A Tennessee Immigrant Rights group is highlighting the case of a Nashville teenager to challenge a program that allows the Sheriff’s office to check immigration status on a federal database.
18-year-old Mercedes Gonzales was pulled over for speeding a week before her high school graduation. After she was arrested for driving without a license, she was found to be an undocumented immigrant by a 287(g) screening. She is currently awaiting a court date before a deportation judge.
Amelia Post of the Tennessee Immigrant and Refugee Rights Coalition was among those protesting the possible deportation in front of the Sheriff’s office. She says 287(g) punishes people who haven’t committed serious crimes.
“We’ve seen that 287(g) ends up targeting students, hardworking people, families, and that’s not what the people of Nashville want.”
Davidson County Sherriff’s Office spokesperson Karla Weikal says that 287(g) isn’t supposed to focus on serious criminals only.
“It never was brought to Nashville under the premise of the worst of the worst, and that’s something that has been repeated among those who would rather see it that way. But that’s just not the case and never was.”
The teenager’s attorney says they are petitioning the Department of Homeland Security to try and stop her deportation and ultimately end Nashville’s participation in 287(g).