More on Haslam and the ‘sanctuary cities bill’

Gov. Bill Haslam has elaborated on his decision to let the controversial “sanctuary cities bill” become law without his signature, reports the Times Free Press. And several politicians and individuals are offering comments on the move.

He said critics are wrong in saying it amounts to a “mass deportation” measure. And proponents are wrong, the governor said, when they claim Tennessee has “sanctuary cities.”

… The law says local governments would be required to comply with federal immigration detainers, without requiring warrants or probable cause, for the potential deportation of people who were arrested on other charges and found to be in the U.S. illegally.

But Haslam’s deputy counsel, Todd Skelton, told reporters the U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement’s current policy requires probable cause and a warrant for detainers.

… “If we vetoed this bill, I’m relatively confident there would at least be a special session. If not, it would be one of the first items that would be discussed in next year’s session,” said the governor, who leaves office in January.

But he said he wouldn’t sign it because that would mean he believes Tennessee has an “issue” around sanctuary cities, which he said it does not. Lawmakers several years ago passed a law banning them. The new legislation provides more details.

Civil rights and immigrant groups have charged the bill mandates local law enforcement detain immigrants for deportation at the request of federal officials without requiring warrants or probable cause.

Stephanie Teatro, co-executive director of the Tennessee Immigrant and Refugee Rights Coalition, blasted the governor for not vetoing the bill, calling the measure “dangerous and misguided.”

“[H]e caved to the most extreme fringe of the electorate,” Teatro said. “He chose hate and fear over good governance.”

Some other comments emailed to media:

Lt. Gov. Randy McNally“I believe Gov. Haslam made a wise decision allowing this legislation to pass. There are no sanctuary cities in Tennessee and his action today assures that remains the case. As a supporter of the bill, I believe this is a good result for all.”

House Speaker Beth Harwell“I appreciate Governor Haslam allowing House Bill 2315 to become law. This measure will further allow our local, state, and federal officials to work together to keep our communities safe, building on the law we passed in 2009 to outlaw sanctuary city policies.” 

Hedy Weinberg, executive director of the American Civil Liberties Union in Tennessee:

“We are extremely disappointed in Governor Haslam’s decision to let this unconstitutional and dangerous legislation become law without his signature. Immigrants should not have to live with the constant fear that any local police officer or sheriff they encounter is a de facto immigration agent. By allowing this bill to become law, the governor has ensured that thousands of Tennesseans will be forced to live in the shadows, in fear of reporting when they are victims or witnesses to crimes and undermining local law enforcement’s ability to use their discretion and resources in the way that they believe best protects public safety in their local community. The dangerous impact this bill will have on immigrant communities has led to a public outcry throughout the state and from all corners of the country, and it is disgraceful that the governor chose not to listen to the diverse voices united in calling for immigrants in our state to be treated fairly, in alignment with the Constitution.


9 Responses to More on Haslam and the ‘sanctuary cities bill’

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    James White says:

    From what I have read of ICE, the law does not require or even allow local law officers to ask people of their status. ICE just wants the local law offices to notify them if they have any illegals that are incarcerated (for any reason).

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    Brenda Miller says:

    The ACLU uses law, our Constitution when it benefits their political agenda but dismisses the very law that would keep us safe. It seems “all laws are equal, but some laws are more equal than others.” Or some people in this case.

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    Steve L. says:

    Hedy, if you are in this country illegally you should live in fear. If you employ illegals you should live in fear. If you represent the interests of illegals in the State or Federal Legislature you should live in fear. If you intervene on the behalf of illegals to thwart Local, State, or Federal law you should live in fear. If you take money from illegals to get into this country and stay here, you should live in fear. And then, you should be arrested, prosecuted in court, have all your possessions seized, and then deported to the country the illegals came from. You and all your family (wife & kids). Would that help you get a handle on this situation, Hedy?

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    Leslie Parsley says:

    It’s really hard to argue with paranoia and stupidity.

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    Tommy Ray McAnally says:


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    Bob Fischer says:

    Simply put, this Bill represents and unfunded mandate for police and authorities to operate in violation of the first, fourth and tenth amendments. Why should a cop have the power to check my, or anyone’s citizenship? People, not citizens are covered by the Bill of Rights within our borders.

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    Bob Fischer says:

    Why would anyone sacrifice their personal reputation to represent a criminal idiot like Trump?

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    Michael Lottman says:

    What do we need this governor for? He remains mostly aloof from the legislative process, rarely even takes note of, and often exacerbates, the many, many problems in his administration (e.g., education, healthcare [Insure TN flopped two years ago and that was that–big deal!], intellectual/developmental disabilities, mental health, gun violence, crumbling infrastructure [inadequate funding allowed to be compromised away], children’s services [settled for a nothingburger “reform” bill], insufficient revenue flow getting worse every year, lack of affordable housing [signing bills blocking the requirement or even encouragement of same], disgraceful prison and jail conditions, etc., etc., and when something really tough comes along (like this bill, which should not have been that difficult for him), he just takes a walk. For an outgoing governor with nothing to lose to punt on a bill like this–not disapprove it, nor even approve it and try to mitigate its effect–is, let’s face it, a serious dereliction of duty.

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