Claiming that their bills do not conflict with federal or state immigration statutes, Metro Council members Colby Sledge and Bob Mendes have introduced two sanctuary city bills that will help shield criminal and non-criminal illegal aliens in Nashville. The Tennessee Immigrant & Refugee Rights Coalition (TIRRC), whose co-director Lindsey Harris is married to Sledge, helped draft the bills.
Shortly after President Trump issued his Executive Order calling for appropriate enforcement of U.S. immigration laws, TIRRC issued a state-wide call to organize against efforts by U.S. Immigration & Customs Enforcement to follow the President’s orders:
Last week the president shared his blueprints for mass deportation and made clear he needs state and local agencies to act as his deportation force. Join with TIRRC members in your local area to stop your city/county from collaborating with ICE and to create communities of trust where all residents feel safe. Sign up here: www.tnimmigrant.org/trust .
The Mendes/Sledge bills are scheduled for a first reading on June 6.
Mendes’ website claims that his bills “would not create ‘sanctuary city’ status” even though the bills are designed to obstruct and possibly prohibit cooperating with ICE detainer requests, which the Federation for American Immigration Reform (FAIR) says are “[o]ne of the more recent and pervasive forms of sanctuary policies…Detainers are used to request that state and local law enforcement either notify ICE that it is about to release a criminal alien or to maintain custody of the alien for up to 48-hours for ICE pick-up.”
One of the Mendes/Sledge bills parrots efforts by other sanctuary cities to require a judicial warrant as opposed to ICE’s administrative warrant in order to comply with an ICE detainer request, a tactic intended to slow down deportations. Revised 2017 ICE policies reflected in the new detainer forms now require that the basis for probable cause that the person to be detained is subject to deportation, is set forth in the paperwork and the arrest warrant is also provided.
Another section of the bill goes as far as possible to assist aliens in concealing their illegal immigration status and enable them to pass for legal residents:
A department, board, commission, officer, or employee of the metropolitan government of Nashville and Davidson County, including law enforcement officers, shall not request information about or otherwise assist in the investigation of the citizenship or immigration status of any person, unless otherwise required by federal or state law or by court order.
Before leaving office, Obama’s Attorney General Loretta Lynch issued guidance that city officials must be in compliance with 8 U.S.C. 1373 which:
prevents federal, state and local government entities and officials from ‘prohibit[ing] or in any way restrict[ing]’ government officials or entities from sending to, or receiving from, federal immigration officers information concerning an individual’s citizenship or immigration status.
In addition, Tennessee law requires that the citizenship status of anyone who is arrested, booked, or confined for any period in a county or municipal jail or detention facility, be verified and that illegal aliens or anyone whose immigration status cannot be determined, be reported to ICE.
Mendes says he has a “moral obligation to make the city safe for everyone” and TIRRC wants “communities of trust.” Both statements viewed in the context of TIRRC’s ideological stance on illegal immigration and the text of the Mendes/Sledge bills, put protecting criminal aliens over and above the interests and welfare of citizens and legally admitted immigrants. Sheriffs from around the country have said that sanctuary policies do not create more trusting and cooperative relationships between illegal aliens and law enforcement.
TIRRC is organizing support for passage of the bills. Mayor Megan Barry’s campaign theme, “it doesn’t matter where you started life or how you got here” understood as urging legal immigration like refugee resettlement and illegal immigration to continue in Nashville, signals that there is little doubt that her pen will be ready to sign the bills into Metro’s code.