Davidson Co. Sheriff declines meeting with Trump while in DC

Daron Hall-small size

Sheriff Daron Hall

Davidson County Sheriff Daron Hall declined an invitation to discuss immigration and other law enforcement issues with President Trump at a meeting Tuesday of local sheriffs at the White House.

Hall was among a dozen sheriffs the president invited to the gathering of mostly pro-Trump law enforcement officials, including outspoken ally Milwaukee County Sheriff David Clarke.

But Hall, who is in Washington, D.C., for the National Sheriffs’ Association Winter Conference and serves on the group’s executive committee, said he passed and did not attend.

Hall told the Tennessean that he was concerned the meeting would in support of issues like the immigration order and decided not to go.

Hall was one of three Democratic sheriffs invited. A White House spokeswoman originally said Tuesday morning that Hall would be among those attending. A photo of sheriffs and Trump taken from the Oval Office and tweeted by the president Tuesday does not show Hall present.

Trump signed an executive order Jan. 27 temporarily banning travel into the United States from seven predominantly Muslim countries, a move that a federal judge last month issued a nationwide restraining order to block. A federal appeals court is taking up the case.

At Tuesday’s meeting, Trump told the group of sheriffs that he would help them fight terrorism and illegal immigration while vowing to take his travel ban all the way to the U.S. Supreme Court if needed.

“We’re committed to securing our borders,” Trump said. “We’re going to be building a wall.”

Nashville Mayor Megan Barry (who has declared Nashville’s police aren’t “immigration police”) said she was aware of Hall’s attendance at the conference but did not know about the invitation to meet with Trump.

Hall has faced criticism from Nashville immigration advocates and liberal activists for his participation in the federal deportation program called 287(g). But in 2012, the Davidson County Sheriff’s Office, led by Hall, stopped participating. The program empowered sheriff’s officials to screen against those suspected to have entered the country illegally after arrests and begin deportation processes.

It was replaced by a federal deportation program called Secure Commun-ities, which was discontinued by the federal government in 2014. The Davidson County Sheriff’s Office continues to cooperate with federal immigration officials to help deport those convicted of crimes through the U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement program.

Hall, elected sheriff in 2002, is up for re-election next year.

In recent years, Hall has embraced various criminal justice reforms, including alternatives besides jail for inmates with mental illnesses. Hall also supported an ordinance passed by the Metro Council last year to give police discretion to give lighter civil penalties for possession of small amounts of marijuana.