Local law enforcement agree and differ on deportation program - WRCBtv.com | Chattanooga News, Weather & Sports

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Local law enforcement agree and differ on deportation program

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CHATTANOOGA, TN (WRCB) -

Channel 3 is taking a closer look at how President Trump's deportation policy could impact law enforcement in the Tennessee Valley. 

The President released a memo this week that calls for the expansion of a program used by several sheriff's offices, including one in north Georgia. 

Some say that the program is working in their communities, but critics say it stands to hurt the relationship between police and their community. 

"The majority of the Latino community right now is living in fear," La Paz Executive Director Stacy Johnson says members of Chattanooga's Latino population fear the expansion of a program called 287 G because it could separate them from their families. 

The program gives local authorities the power to enforce federal immigration laws. 

"They're illegal but they're kids are not illegal so they're afraid to be separated," Paco Diaz said. 

Diaz lives in Chattanooga under a work visa. 

He said his friends, who are both immigrants and parents, are rushing to apply for dual citizenship for their children. 

"They're going to have two nationalities. They're working on that right now in case anything happens so the kids can go back with their parents," he added. 

287 G is a voluntary program. 

Channel 3 learned it is already being used in Whitfield county but only if someone is arrested. 

Sheriff Scott Chitwood said six deputies inside the jail carry the federal credentials required to access the ICE database. 

"You have to be in custody, in jail, in order to be checked so you can't just stop somebody out here on the street because they're suspicious," he added. 

The Hamilton County Jail leaves the responsibility to federal partners. 

ICE monitors arrests and notifies the jail when there is someone they want to hold. 

Chattanooga Police Chief Fred Fletcher believes anyone who breaks the law should be held accountable but says the existing system works. 

"We have always done that. Often in collaboration with federal partners and we will continue to do that What we don't want is to run astray of the constitutional rights that are afforded to all of our neighbors," he said. 

Whether part of the program or now, both jails are reimbursed for the cost of holding unauthorized immigrants. 

Channel 3 discovered Whitfield County received more than $19,000 last year while Hamilton County got about $2,000 less. 

It's not clear if President Trump's proposal to expand the program would come with funding but for now, these top cops are not planning to change the way they do business. 

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