Legislators vote to require TN law enforcement officers to detain illegal immigrants

On mostly party-line votes, the House and Senate gave final approval Wednesday to legislation that  requires state and local law enforcement to detain suspected illegal immigrants for deportation at the request of federal officials without requiring warrants and prohibits local governments from adopting “sanctuary city’ policies

Democrats, contending the bill was unnecessary because Tennessee already forbids sanctuary cities, offered amendments to the measure (HB2315) that would have increased penalties for businesses that hire illegal immigrants. Those efforts were killed, also on party line votes, with the House sponsor voicing sympathy for the idea but declaring timing of the proposal inappropriate on the last day of the 2018 session.

From the Times Free Press report:

The bill (HB2315) easily passed the GOP-led House and Senate by wide margins (27-4 in the Senate; 64-23 in  the House) and now goes to Republican Gov. Bill Haslam for his consideration.

A provision of the bill, sponsored by Rep. Jay Reedy, R-Erin, and Sen. Mark Green, R-Clarksville, would deny state economic and community grants to towns and cities that have so-called “sanctuary city policies.”

Tennessee does not have any sanctuary cities. Last year, the Metro Nashville Council briefly flirted with an ordinance restricting local agencies’ ability to cooperate with federal immigration officials beyond what the law requires. It was dropped.

Majority Republicans in the House beat back an amendment from Democratic Caucus Chairman Mike Stewart of Nashville that sought to punish companies that employ 50 or more “illegal aliens.”

Citing this month’s raid by U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) agents on a Grainger County meat-packing plant, Stewart said, “they’re there because you had a company breaking the law, allegedly, and providing unlawful employment.”

…The legislation bans local governments from adopting “sanctuary” policies and threatens to withhold future state economic and community development money from localities not complying.

Most notably, local governments would have to comply with federal immigration detainers of people identified as in the country illegally.

The Tennessee Immigrant and Refugee Rights Coalition called it “one of the most extreme, anti-immigrant proposals currently pending in the country.”

…In the Senate, Democratic Caucus Chairman Jeff Yarbro, a Nashville attorney, criticized the bill, saying it was “more tough talking at the expense of the Constitution” and fourth Amendment protections against unreasonable searches, seizures and detentions.

…Local governments and taxpayers will be footing the bill for detentions, Yarbro warned, and he questioned the legislation’s impact on getting undocumented immigrants to speak freely with police about crimes they’ve witnessed. He noted that Nashville police last week went door-to-door in search of the suspect in last weekend’s deadly Waffle House shooting that left four people dead.

Green argued the bill does not violate Fourth Amendment protections, saying the U.S. 5th Circuit Court of Appeals ruled favorably in a Texas case on probable cause issues in federal detainer documents.

A physician running for Congress, Green said ICE does pay a portion of the costs for holding detainees. He said studies show that enforcement doesn’t have a “chilling effect.” And he also said undocumented immigrants who turn in someone committing a crime are incentivized with a path toward legal status to remain in the U.S.

Note: An amendment added at the urging of Rep. Bill Dunn (R-Knoxville) and accepted by both chambers postpones the effective date of the new law until Jan. 1, 2019, which Dunn said will give law enforcement agencies time to prepare for dealing with their new duties.

For some other articles on the bill, see also The Tennessean and Tennessee Star.

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