Nashville’s ‘Sanctuary’ Ordinance Forces Local Law Enforcement to Violate Federal and State Law

Tennessee Star
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The Mendes/Sledge Ordinance BL2017-739  that passed on second reading by twenty-five Metro Nashville Council members on Tuesday will, if passed on a final vote, force Davidson County and Nashville law enforcement personnel to violate federal and state laws.

The sponsors’ other bill, BL2017-743 seeking to terminate a 1996 contract that reimburses the Davidson County jail when it detains criminal aliens for ICE pick-up, has been deferred to the Council’s August 1, 2017 meeting.

Both bills are in line with Nashville Mayor Megan Barry’s left-wing open borders, pro-illegal immigrant political philosophy.

BL2017-739 expressly prohibits the “use of any funds, resources or facilities” to assist ICE and also prohibits Davidson County and Nashville employees, including law enforcement, from providing pertinent information to ICE regarding criminal aliens. Federal law, however, specifically addresses these information exchanges:

a Federal, State, or local government entity or official may not prohibit, or in any way restrict, any government entity or official from sending to, or receiving from, [federal immigration authorities] information regarding the citizenship or immigration status, lawful or unlawful, of any individual.

The Mendes/Sledge bill attempts to circumvent this law by prohibiting the collection of immigration status information, possibly inviting the Tennessee General Assembly to pass a law similar to Arizona’s allowing law enforcement to question the immigration status of anyone stopped or arrested if there is “reasonable suspicion” that they are in the country illegally. In 2012, the U.S. Supreme Court upheld this part of the Arizona law.

The Star asked Sarah Rehberg, an attorney with the Immigration Reform Law Institute (IRLI) whether the Metro Nashville Council’s effort to obstruct cooperation with federal immigration authorities runs afoul of federal law:

Congress made clear more than 20 years ago when it passed the Illegal Immigration Reform and
Immigration Responsibility Act (IIRAIRA) that no federal, state, or local government entity can restrict or prohibit the sharing of immigration status information – regardless of whether there is reasonable
suspicion that an individual is in the country unlawfully. In addition to enacting provisions expressly to
this point, throughout our federal immigration laws as a whole, Congress has created a broader cooperative scheme between local, state, and federal officials when it comes to enforcing our immigration laws. Any attempt to prohibit the inquiry into such immigration status therefore undermines the delicate balance Congress established for communication between federal, state, and local governments about immigration status, and thwarts the express congressional objective of cooperation in acquiring and sharing immigration-related information.

The Mendes/Sledge ordinance conditions compliance with an ICE detainer on the issuance of a judicial as opposed to an administrative warrant. Advocates for illegal immigrants have tried to use this Fourth Amendment argument to slow down arrests and deportation of illegal aliens.

However, DHS’ new consolidated detainer form which includes the administrative warrant, along with two recent New York Supreme Court cases may have made this a non-issue. The new form requires a statement of probable cause for arresting the illegal alien and the New York cases held that an ICE detainer based on probable cause did not violate any constitutional rights. IRLI’s attorney also points out that:

Removal under federal immigration law is a civil matter – not criminal. As such, Article III judges do not have jurisdiction over immigration matters to issue the judicial warrants… Even before ICE revealed its new consolidated detainer form, the agency required probable cause that an immigration violation had occurred. Adding the administrative warrant requirement, which further states the probable cause that ICE has to arrest a suspected removable alien, only strengthens the agency’s authority and removes any alleged Fourth Amendment hurdles.

Seattle, which in 2003, established itself as a sanctuary city, has filed a lawsuit challenging the President’s Executive Order defunding cities that prohibit their employees from sharing immigration status information with the federal government. The Mendes/Sledge ordinance contains a similar prohibition potentially putting it in the crosshairs of the 2009 Tennessee statute  prohibiting the establishment of sanctuary cities in the state.



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14 Thoughts to “Nashville’s ‘Sanctuary’ Ordinance Forces Local Law Enforcement to Violate Federal and State Law”

  1. Ann

    This woman obviously needs to be voted out! What a brainless stupid thing to do. If she wants to protect such criminals why don’t we release them into her neighborhood and take away any protection and security that she has. See how well she sleeps at night.
    It appears to me that Nashville has allowed a virus into the city and the virus is bringing trojan horses into our communities.

  2. Jim B

    First time I am glad to be out of the Nashville Area since moving 2010.

  3. Cathy

    I am so glad 840 is finished now so that I can COMPLETELY avoid Nashville when going anywhere east from West TN. Why did the people of Nashville elect this woman? I guess t was the PC thing to do and you were a sexist if you didn’t vote for her. At least I can get to Chattanooga and Knoxville without spending any time or money in Nashville now. Glad my money won’t be gong to fund this illegal mess.

  4. Debbie

    Megan Berry, is part of this country’s problem. Everyone legal and illegal is not above the law! Who wants to come to a complete stop at a stop sign? Even if you don’t like it, nevertheless it’s the law and there are consequences for breaking it. Nashville is not headed in the right direction with your leadership. Illegal immagrats should be held accountable, just like if an American went to another country illegally, there would be consiquence! HELLO!

  5. Wolf Woman

    Progressive leftists like Megan Barry and other socialists of her ilk have to have an oppressed group to make a to-do about or they wouldn’t have a political platform to stand on. They love to meet and make up charts about community needs and stick little pieces of bs on them, written on post-it notes. Meet the great social justice warriors who want to drain the life blood from our city.

    If Mayor Barry likes illegal aliens so much then she should take in a few MS13 gang members or some LaRaza activists over at Casa Azafran, “the gateway to Nashville’s international district.” BTW, when do the people who form the “international district” become plain ole Nashvillians?

    1. Sulynn Dellinger


  6. Dannie

    To the people of Nashville would you like to see where the money is going to come from to support the illegals. Look at the city taxes you pay and if the federal government stops giving money to your state and city. You can bet your taxes will go up

  7. Jim ONeal

    Another leftwing liberal who is above the law. You would think that the good people of Nashville would want their illegal criminal element removed. This isn’t about the hard working peaceful illegals here it’s about THE CRIMINAL STUPID!

  8. Anthony Brown

    Nashville is reaping the rewards of it’s liberal leanings. The mayor needs to go.

  9. Jim Forsythe

    Only a fool would support and promote the so-called ‘Sanctuary’ Ordinance. When people come here illegally, they are criminals and should be punished accordingly.

  10. Ed

    A note to council members. Elections are near. If you insist one this illegal behavior you will be fired.

  11. Tucker

    Why do’t we all cherry pick what laws we will abide by, and ones we will ignore? Start the list!

  12. Bob

    If they break the law, they should be tried and in prison.

  13. Sharon

    I just sent an email to the metro city council asking if i would be exempt from following Nashville’s laws as well when I’m there. Why should the legal residents be expected to obey any law in Nashville when the ILLEGAL Immigrants Don’t have to? The people of Nashville should sue, if possible, when the receive speeding tickets, seat belt infractions, etc. They should claim sanctuary city rights to break the law also.