Black urges Haslam to sign ‘anti-sanctuary cities bill;’ rally urges veto of ‘mass deportation bill’

U.S. Rep. Diane Black, who is running for governor, issued a press release Thursday calling on current Gov. Bill Haslam to sign an “anti-Sanctuary Cities” bill that requires state and local law enforcement officers to assist federal immigration officials in detaining undocumented immigrants.

The Tennessee Immigration and Refugee Rights Coalition, on the other hand, held a rally at the state Capitol Thursday evening to call for a veto of the group calls a “mass deportation bill.” TIRRC says “hundreds” attended, reports The Tennessean. And the Southern Poverty Law Center sent Haslam a letter saying the bill is unconstitutional.

Press release from Diane Black campaign

Nashville, Tenn. – Today, Diane Black released the following statement urging Governor Haslam to sign SB 2332/HB2315:

“The voters of Tennessee want our leaders in Nashville to get tough on illegal immigration,” said Diane Black. Sanctuary cities have no place in our state, and Governor Haslam should sign the anti-sanctuary cities legislation passed by the General Assembly – the duly elected representatives of the people of Tennessee. It is a common-sense bill that supports law enforcement and prohibits local governments from rewarding illegal immigration. It needs to become a common-sense law.”

While Tennessee already has a law making sanctuary cities illegal, that law defines sanctuary cities as cities with written sanctuary policies. SB 2332/HB 2315 would expand that law to apply to cities who don’t necessarily make a written policy, but don’t cooperate with the federal government’s immigration enforcement.

Excerpt from The Tennessean article:

In the organization’s April 26 letter, TIRRC’s co-executive director Stephanie Teatro noted the legislation in question overlooks the fact that Tennessee does not have any sanctuary cities and that local law enforcement officials comply with federal immigration law. 

… TIRRC says the legislation, which was passed on the final day of the 2018 session, would require all law enforcement officials to inquire about immigration status during routine encounters with residents. 

The bill also prohibits local officials from asking for probable cause or a judicial warrant before detaining an individual at the request of the U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement, TIRRC says. 

“These new mandates would severely restrict the ability of local police to make common-sense, public safety decisions and would force local governments to bear the risk and expense of federal immigration enforcement,” Teatro said. 

Beyond the language of the bill, Teatro said the “true intent” of the bill was clear when it was under consideration in the legislature. On April 11, the bill’s sponsor, Rep. Jay Reedy, R-Erin, used an ethnic slur (‘wetback’) while referring to Mexican migrants. Teatro also noted among the proponents to speak in favor of the bill was the Federation for American Immigration Reform, an organization deemed a hate group by the Southern Poverty Law Center.

… On Wednesday, the Southern Poverty Law Center sent its own letter to Haslam, calling the bill unconstitutional. 

The organization pointed to the requirement that local law enforcement comply with requests from federal officials while saying “such detentions would violate both the federal and Tennessee constitutions, which prohibit unreasonable seizures.” 

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