Nearly one third of illegal immigrants identified during the first six weeks of a new jail program were simply released on their honor, without posting bail or a bond, reports The Tennessean. Those released are given notices to appear at immigration hearings in Memphis or Oakdale, La. Anecdotal evidence suggests the vast majority of those people fail to show up. “We’ve heard 10-20 percent will go to court, and the rest probably will not,” said Tom Davis of the Davidson County Sheriff’s Office.
While the number of local prisoners handed to federal immigration officials is up dramatically since the program began in mid-April, the releases could point to a gaping hole in the plan that aims to deport illegal immigrants who get arrested in the Nashville area. Federal policy calls for the release of illegal immigrant detainees who are deemed “low risk,” said Temple Black of the U.S. Bureau of Immigration and Customs Enforcement. “If someone is encountered, and we’ve never encountered them before, there is a low risk,” he said. “We also have mothers with children, and children need to be taken care of.” Undocumented immigrants booked on misdemeanor offenses have a strong chance of being released without bond if they have no prior criminal history or previous immigration offenses.