Sponsors of Metro Council’s proposed “sanctuary city” ordinance are saying they will not ask their fellow council members to vote on the bill July 6 as originally scheduled.
In an email to their colleagues obtained by The Tennessee Star, council members Bob Mendes and Colby Sledge said they are working on plans to hold a press conference Wednesday with other advocates of the bill to discuss the matter.
The Tuesday afternoon email followed a public statement in the morning by Mayor Megan Barry asking the council to reconsider the ordinance.
Barry raised concerns resulting from the release Monday of a written opinion from Metro’s law director, who said the council can’t legally keep the sheriff from cooperating with federal immigration officials. She also said the Metro Nashville Police Department has concerns about the proposed ordinance.
Metro Council passed the bill on a second reading last week, but opposition to the ordinance has grown fast in recent days, with nine state senators now joining 63 House members in opposition, with more expected. A grassroots movement is also mobilizing to stop the bill.
In their email, Mendes and Sledge said they need more time to review the law director’s legal opinion. It was unclear whether they intend simply to delay a vote on the bill, or whether they have started to consider withdrawing it.
A related bill was already deferred until August.
Here is the full text of the email:
From: Jameson, Mike (Council Office)
Date: Tue, Jun 27, 2017 4:43 PM
To: Council Members;
Cc: Briley, David (Vice Mayor);
Subject:Message from Council members Mendes and Sledge
Members of Council –
The following message is submitted on behalf of Council members Bob Mendes and Colby Sledge:
We wanted to touch base with you regarding BL 2017-739 and BL 2017-743, the two #NashvilleTogether bills regarding how we treat immigrants and refugees in Nashville. It is unsurprising that these bills have generated a lot of reaction, but disappointing that there are a lot of accusations instead of discussions about how we treat some of Nashville’s most vulnerable residents. We’re proud that our Council has continued to support our immigrant and refugee brothers and sisters, no matter where they came from or how they got here.
Today, we have seen the formal legal opinion of Legal Director Cooper and the statement from Mayor Barry asking that we reconsider. We have not had time to fully review the legal opinion; neither has Mr. Jameson. We’ll need time to respond to the lengthy legal opinion. What we do know is that many jurisdictions around the country have passed similar legislation to define their voluntary cooperation with federal immigration enforcement.
Many of our immigrant neighbors – citizens and not – continue to fear working with our local government for immunizations and parent-teacher conferences, and in reporting crime. We believe Nashville is better when we all participate, and that includes further participation in discussing this legislation.
We will not ask the Council to vote on these bills on July 6 as we continue that discussion, but it is a conversation we believe is relevant, important, and vital to being the warm and welcoming city we say we are. We are working to plan a press conference for tomorrow with our advocate partners and community supporters to discuss how to best help our neighbors and our city moving forward.
CM Bob Mendes and CM Colby Sledge