Commentary by Joe Carr
A plan to make Davidson County a “sanctuary city” for illegal immigrants passed earlier this week on second reading and is headed to a final vote in the Metro Council next month. Citizens in Nashville, and in the surrounding area who will be affected if the city becomes an even bigger magnet for illegal aliens, have valid concerns about the plan. Any public policy that embraces and endorses illegal activity of any kind is clearly wrong. The plan promoted by Mayor Megan Berry is not just bad policy, it is ILLEGAL policy under Tennessee law AND Federal law.
In 2009 as a member of the Tennessee House of Representatives, I wrote, sponsored and passed one of the nation’s first, if not THE first, “No Sanctuary City Law.” The law was in response to various California municipalities passing ordinances requiring their law enforcement officials not to comply with the 1996 Illegal Immigration Reform and Immigration Responsibility Act (the IIRIR). That federal law included section 8 U.S.C. 1373, which provided that no state or local entity can in any way restrict its law-enforcement officials from communicating with federal immigration authorities regarding an individual’s citizenship or immigration status. The Metro Davidson County Commission has passed, on second reading, an ordinance that does exactly that.
One of the proposed Metro ordinances reads specifically as follows:
“A department, board, commission, officer, or employee of the metropolitan government of Nashville and Davidson County shall not (A) use any funds, resources, or facilities of the metropolitan government to assist in the enforcement of federal immigration laws unless such assistance is required by federal or state law or by a court order; or (B) expend their time or use any resources responding to inquiries from Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) regarding a person’s custody status, release date, or scheduled appearance date for court or probation proceedings unless such assistance is required by federal or state law or by a court order.”
The Tennessee No Sanctuary City Act, found in TCA Section 7-68-103 specifically provides:
“(a) A local governmental entity or official shall not adopt any ordinance or written policy that expressly prohibits a local governmental entity, official, or employee from complying with applicable federal law pertaining to persons that reside within the state illegally.
(b) An official shall not materially interfere with the ability of a local governmental entity, official or employee of a municipality or county to comply with applicable federal law pertaining to persons that reside within the state illegally.”
The action being taken by the Metro Council is a direct and intentional attempt to violate the law. Governor Bill Haslam and the Attorney General should immediately make it clear that the State of Tennessee will aggressively and immediately respond if the ordinance passes on final reading. If the Governor doesn’t act in a definitive way, then the Legislature should take all necessary actions to prevent the violation of state law by imperious local officials who seem to be willing to ignore rules and laws that don’t fit their liberal personal agenda.
Additionally and most importantly I provided an opportunity for immediate relief from this type of lawless behavior by California Liberals who are determined to bring their failed socialist open borders policies to Tennessee. The No Sanctuary City Act specifically allows for a citizen upon passage of either one of these two ordinances the ability to file a complaint in Chancery Court. TCA Section 7-68-104 specifically provides:
“(a) A person residing in a municipality or county who believes a local governmental entity or official has violated the provisions of Section 7-68-103, may file a complaint in chancery court in such person’s county of residence.
(b) The person filing the complaint shall have the burden of proving by a preponderance of evidence that a violation of Section 7-68103, has occurred.
(c) If the court finds the local governmental entity or official in violation of Section 7-68-103, the court may issue a writ of mandamus against the local governmental entity ordering it to comply with Section 768-103, enjoin the official from further interference or take such other action to ensure compliance as is within the jurisdiction of the court.
(d) A local governmental entity shall have no less than ninety (90) days nor more than one hundred twenty (120) days from the date of the court’s order to comply with such order. If, after one hundred twenty (120) days, the local governmental entity has not complied with the court’s order, the court may take whatever action necessary to enforce compliance.”
Those who have broken our laws to come here, broken our laws to work here, broken our laws to hide among us, and in many cases broken our laws by taking taxpayer dollars in housing, healthcare, food stamps and other forms of assistance to which they are not entitled, should not be aided by public officials who embrace that illegal behavior by breaking the law themselves. Our nation was founded upon the principle of being a nation of laws; where the rule of law applied to everyone, without favor being granted to a select few.
If Nashville persists in ignoring Federal and State law, then ALL Federal and State tax dollars should be stopped at the city limits unless or until the Metro Council rejects the lawlessness they seek to codify.
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Joe Carr is a former State Representative and past Republican candidate for the U.S. Senate. Joe currently owns and operates a small farm in Lascassas.