Tennessee State Legislators Caved to Leftists on ‘Soft Amnesty’ Instead of Upholding Constitution

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Sixteen Republicans in the State Senate and twenty-seven in the House caved to the demands of the TN Immigrant & Refugee Rights Coalition (TIRRC) when they voted to give in-state tuition to illegal aliens with deferred deportation under DACA, or who might become eligible for DACA.

DACA does not alter a grantee’s illegal immigration status.

Ignoring the illegal immigration issue and offering a “soft amnesty” to DACA illegal aliens, the forty-three Republicans voting “aye” for the Gardenhire/White 2015 in-state tuition bill, also voted to violate federal and Tennessee law. These lawmakers also ignored the fact that Obama’s DACA policy was neither a statutory nor Constitutional exercise of executive authority.

Republican Senators voting for the 2015 in-state tuition bill:  Janice Bowling, Richard Briggs, Rusty Crowe, Steve Dickerson, Todd Gardenhire, Mark Green, Dolores Gresham, Ferrell Haile, Ed Jackson, Brian Kelsey, Becky Duncan-Massey, Randy McNally, Frank Niceley, Doug Overbey, Steve Southerland, Lt. Gov. Ron Ramsey.

Republican House members voting for in-state tuition: Harry Brooks, Kevin Brooks, Kent Calfee, Dale Carr, Mike Carter, Bill Dunn, Jimmy Eldridge, Andrew Farmer, Marc Gravitt, Mike Harrison, Ryan Haynes, Patsy Hazlewood, Bud Hulsey, Curtis Johnson, Sabi Kumar, Pat Marsh, Gerald McCormick, Steve McDaniel, Steve McManus, Bob Ramsey, Bill Sanderson, Eddie Smith, Mike Sparks, Curry Todd, Mark White, Tim Wirgau, Rick Womick.

GOP gubernatorial candidate Speaker Beth Harwell left the chamber instead of voting on this bill.

The 2015 bill passed in the Senate but failed in the House by a single vote. Since then Rep. Mark White and Sen. Todd Gardenhire have introduced new bills that are broader in scope and would make in-state tuition available to any illegal alien residing in Tennessee including DACA grantees. One bill failed in 2017 and one remains for a final vote when the General Assembly convenes in 2018.

The Leftist organizations who have advocated for the adoption of this in-state tuition for illegals proposal for years are clearly gearing up for a full court political press here in Tennessee in 2018, despite the most recent legal precedents in other states that have knocked down the idea.

On June 20, 2017, an Arizona appellate court ruled against DACA grantees seeking in-state college tuition.

Dale Wilcox, executive director and general counsel of the Immigration Reform Law Institute commented that “[t]he [Arizona] decision is key because in-state tuition is yet another benefit that acts as a magnet for illegal aliens choosing to make the reckless and irresponsible decision to bring their children illegally across our sovereign borders.”

Arizona law prohibits allowing illegal aliens living in the state to pay the in-state tuition rate. Similarly, Tennessee’s “Eligibility Verification for Entitlements Act” classifies in-state tuition as a state benefit and incorporates federal law that says only U.S. citizens and “qualified aliens” (which do not include illegal aliens), can access state benefits.

The in-state tuition bill for the 2018 session will create a special exception for illegal aliens in Tennessee by removing in-state tuition as a state benefit. Proponents of SB635/HB660 are using Governor Haslam’s “Drive to 55” education agenda created by gubernatorial candidate Randy Boyd, to justify acceding to a goal that TIRRC has been pursuing since 2014. Changing Tennessee law to accommodate illegal aliens, however, creates an incentive for illegal aliens to settle in Tennessee.

Sen. Richard Briggs, Becky Duncan-Massey and Reps. Kent Calfee and Eddie Smith who all voted for the in-state tuition bill, are supporting Randy Boyd’s campaign.

Rep. Bill Sanderson who also voted for the in-state tuition bill, will be challenged by Newbern mayor Justin Wright  in 2018. GOP gubernatorial candidate Speaker Beth Harwell is supporting Sanderson’s bid for re-election.

Tennessee legislators supporting TIRRC’s in-state tuition agenda have argued that Congress’ inaction on immigration reform has left them no choice but to resolve this issue. Federal law, however, is clear; the Illegal Immigration Reform and Immigrant Responsibility Act, signed into law by President Clinton, prohibits state colleges and universities from providing in-state tuition rates to illegal aliens “on the basis of residence within the State”—unless the same in-state rates are offered to all citizens of the United States.




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12 Thoughts to “Tennessee State Legislators Caved to Leftists on ‘Soft Amnesty’ Instead of Upholding Constitution”

  1. […] 91%) and he received an F in the 2016 Americans for Prosperity scorecard. His support for the Haslam supported taxpayer-subsidized in state tuition for illegal aliens is certainly inconsistent with President Trump’s strong stance on border security and enforcement […]

  2. Sherrie Orange

    Isn’t it odd that the “experts” on Constitutional law in the Tennessee legislative office missed the fact that this bill was unconstiutional? How did that happen?

    1. James w Alloway

      You know what side of the road they are on, it is not the right side.

  3. Wolf Woman

    Rhino-itis is sweeping the Tennessee legislative body and sending many of the Republicans into a zombie socialist fever. The only known cure for this disease is to remove them from office. So be sure and remember who’s sick and needs to be sent home from the Capitol.

  4. Bruce

    Time for a change!

  5. 83ratop50

    Apparently Senator really does not give a flip about what his constituents want for Tennessee. I conferred with his office many times on this topic leading up to the 2017 vote and also exchanged e-mails with him. Needless to say I will be looking for a way to replace Senator Haille with a true conservative.

    1. 83ragtop50

      Somehow I managed to leave out the name of my senator – Senator Haille. In an exchange of e-mails she kept repeating the cliché that it only made sense to grant in state tuition “for the good of the state”. In my opinion the best thing for Tennessee regarding illegals would be to deport the entire lot of them.

  6. Stuart I. Anderson

    Swamp draining is needed in Nashville as well as Washington. There are names in this article that I have supported in the past who have shown they are simply not up to the job. That’s o k, politicians disappoint, and when they do it’s up to conservatives to do what we can to remove them – or at the least put them through a grueling primary, that’s what elections are for. Let’s show them that there is a steep price to pay for “growing in office.”

  7. Karen Bracken

    All the more reason to make sure we support Senator Mae Beavers for Governor. She has consistently voted conservative for years. She was one of just 3 Senators that voted against Race To The Top and all the mandates that came with it including Common Core standards that weren’t even written when our TN legislature voted to pass the legislation. WHY? Why would they do something like that?? They did if for MONEY. As Senator Stacey Campfield said in a Senate Education hearing……”when I was a Representative we called it Race To The Trough.” Of course that statement and many other truthful statements didn’t make him very popular and there was an all out effort to make sure he didn’t get elected again. That is what happens in Nashville when you buck the system in favor of the people you serve. There is no other candidate we can trust to be our next Governor and to do what is right for the people except Senator Mae Beavers.

  8. Dorothy

    Save.Share.Print. Carry this article with you. Tell everyone you know about these traitors. Giving incentives for illegal aliens to stay & acceptance of thier illegal behavior is outrageous. Primary them. I am shocked at some of the names on this list. Shows you really can’t trust people.

    1. Karen Bracken

      Do not be shocked. If you ever spent any time in Nashville and learning about what is REALLY taking place you would not be surprised by any name in this article. They do what is best for their campaign coffers. Whatever the lobbyists with their check books tell them to do is what they do. Understand Haslam’s “free” Community College has affected the bottom line of 4-year colleges in TN. So instead of cutting wasteful costs they want to pass the cost on to the tax payer. This is more a way for the colleges to get more money than it is to help illegals but in the end our elected officials are voting in favor of law breakers.

      1. June Chambers

        Ms. Bracken is right when she writes “Do not be shocked”. It is outrageous what goes on in Nashville. And, if you spent any time around the private Mae Beavers, you’d get to know and learn about what Mae Beavers REALLY is about. It is not the façade she presents and some are pushing, including The Tennessee Star! Get to know ALL candidates vying for offices this election. You’ll be delighted to find that are candidates who desire nothing more than to bring ethics, integrity and truth back into the statehouse.