Monday, May 21, 2018

Haslam Allows ‘Mass-Deportation’ Bill to Become Law

Posted By on Mon, May 21, 2018 at 12:39 PM

click to enlarge Recent rally against the bill in Nashville - FACEBOOK- TIRRC
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  • Recent rally against the bill in Nashville

Ire builds in the immigrant community after Gov. Bill Haslam said Monday he will allow a bill that’s been referred to as “mass deportation” legislation, to become law.

The bill, HB 2315, bans sanctuary cities, while requiring all local law enforcement agencies to enforce federal immigration laws and to detain immigrants at the request of federal immigration agents.

The bill stops local law enforcement from ensuring there is probable cause or a warrant before detaining individuals. Additionally, the bill mandates that law enforcement officers inquire about citizenship doing routine stops.

Christina Comas with Latino Memphis said despite all the pushes against the bill through numerous letters and calls, Gov. Haslam ignored the wishes of his constituents, and instead chose to “attack our neighborhoods and friends.”

“This will give increased ICE authority to continue to terrorize innocent families,” Comas said. “Our local law enforcement officials know what our communities need and destroying that trust capital between local law enforcement and the communities they serve is a public safety issue for all of us.”

Hedy Weinberg, executive director of the American Civil Liberties Union of Tennessee expressed similar concerns about the bill, calling it “unconstitutional and dangerous” in a Monday statement.

“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.” Weinberg said. “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."

Stephanie Teatro, executive director of the Tennessee Immigrant and Refugee Rights Coalition (TIRRC), said Gov. Haslam “failed” in his responsibility to check the legislative branch, by allowing the “harmful” bill to become law.

“In moments like these, leaders are tested,” Teatro said. “When history looks back at the steady march of Tennessee towards becoming a hostile and dangerous place for immigrant families, at the rising tide of nativism and xenophobia, and at the immoral attacks on immigrants in this country, Governor Haslam will see himself on the wrong side.”

Leticia Alvarez, organizing director of TIRRC, said giving ICE a green light to target immigrants for deportation through public employees and agencies is dangerous and could be “devastating” to the state’s hundreds of thousands of immigrant families.

“From their silence in the face of the devastating Morristown raid to their callous passage of such a dangerous bill, it is clear that lawmakers don’t see immigrants as Tennesseans,” Alvarez said. “One day immigrant families will be treated with dignity, respect, and be welcomed; our contributions will be acknowledged and our participation valued, and we will be recognized as the Tennesseans we are.

"Tennessee is our home and we are here to stay. We will keep organizing our communities and supporters across the state to ensure the legislature and policies reflect the needs and values of all Tennesseans, not the fears and worst instincts of the most extreme fringe of the electorate.”

Supporting the legislation, Beth Harwell, Speaker of the Tennessee House of Representatives said she “appreciates” the governor allowing the bill 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,” Harwell said in a statement.

Without veto, the law would go into effect in January 2019.

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