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House passes sanctuary city bill

Xavier Smith • Apr 27, 2018 at 11:22 AM

The Tennessee House approved legislation Tuesday banning sanctuary cities in the state, despite opposition and the sentiment the bill is unnecessary.

The bill, sponsored by Sen. Mark Green, R-Clarksville, and Rep. Jay Reedy, would prohibit state and local governments from adopting or enacting sanctuary policies and prohibits any local governments that enact sanctuary cities from receiving any state funding. Additionally, the bill allows Tennesseans to submit complaints to the Tennessee Attorney General and authorizes law enforcement to cooperate with federal officials to enforce immigration laws.

Many major cities have been designated sanctuary cities for illegal immigrants, including Baltimore, Chicago, Dallas, Denver, Houston, Los Angeles, Miami, Seattle, San Francisco and more.

Nashville, although some city leaders have voiced support for undocumented immigrants, does not qualify as a sanctuary city because of steps taken by the city against illegal immigrants. Nashville offers a 48-hour detainment for illegal immigrants if requested by immigration agents and submits a suspect’s fingerprint information to the FBI.

In 2009, the Tennessee state legislature passed a bill, sponsored by Rep. Joe Carr and Sen. Jim Tracy, that would prohibit local municipalities from enacting sanctuary city policies that make it hard for government employees to comply with federal immigration law. 

The Mt. Juliet City Commission unanimously passed a resolution in 2016, sponsored by Vice Mayor James Maness, which proclaimed Mt. Juliet as a “rule of law” city.

Mt. Juliet mayor Ed Hagerty said the proclamation had “no teeth” and was meant to send a message the city would not tolerate immigrants who were in Mt. Juliet illegally. Hagety admitted the proclamation was more to set tone than set a law that could be enforceable in some way.

The Senate set to hear the bill during its Wednesday afternoon session.

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