The Washington Examiner reported that Knoxville, Tennessee is one of “Twenty-one mostly ‘sanctuary cities’ . . . pledging to make 1 million immigrants U.S. citizens this year” identified in a 4th of July statement issued by Mi Familia Vota, a far left open borders group that is part of the Naturalize Now! Coalition.
“The “Naturalize NOW!” campaign, which includes liberal and progressive groups and elected officials, heralded the mayors of the cities in joining the national effort,” the Examiner reported.
“The cities that have joined the campaign are: Atlanta, GA; Boston, MA; Cleveland, OH; Charlotte, NC; Chicago, IL; Dallas, TX; Dayton, OH; Jersey City, NJ; Knoxville, TN; Los Angeles, CA; Miami, FL; Miami-Dade County, FL; Montgomery County, MD; Paterson, NJ; Pittsburgh, PA; New York City, NY; Salt Lake County, UT; San Francisco, CA; Seattle, CA; South Gate, CA & Tucson, AZ,” the statement released by Mi Familia Vota said.
The “Naturalize Now” campaign was launched in 2015 by a newly formed group known as the New American Democracy Campaign. The coalition includes Mi Familia Vota, “the National Partnership for New Americans and its state-based member coalitions, Mi Familia Vota, Cities for Citizenship, National Council of La Raza (NCLR), iAmerica, Center for Popular Democracy, SEIU, Unite Here, UFCW, and UFW Foundation.”
“The Latino Victory Foundation and National Partnership for New Americans unveiled their plan, dubbed New American Democracy Campaign, to help 1 million people through the naturalization process next year and register many of them to vote in time for November’s elections,” NBC News reported in December 2015.
“The National Partnership for New Americans (NPNA) is a national multiethnic, multiracial partnership,” according to its website:
We represent the collective power and resources of the country’s 37 largest regional immigrant and refugee rights organizations in 31 states. Our members provide large-scale services—from DACA application processing to voter registration to health care enrollment—for their communities, and they combine service delivery with sophisticated organizing tactics to advance local and state policy. We exist to leverage their collective power and expertise for a national strategy
NPNA, along with its local Nashville affiliate, the Tennessee Immigrant Rights Coalition (TIRCC) were the two major sponsors of the National Immigration Integration Conference (NIIC) held in Nashville this past December.
Nashville Mayor Megan Barry and Knoxville Mayor Madeline Rogero were featured speakers at the December conference in Nashville.
Nashville was not included in the list of 21 cities mentioned in the Mi Familia press release, but Knoxville, Tennessee and Los Angeles, California were.
“We celebrate our independence on July 4, and honor the values of freedom, justice, unity, and equality that make us who we are. Los Angeles joined the Naturalize NOW campaign because those principles are still worth fighting for — and to encourage eligible Angelenos and people across the country to seek a path toward citizenship and join the American family,” Los Angeles Mayor Eric Garcett said in a YouTube video posted on the National Partnership for New Americans Facebook page on Tuesday, the 4th of July:
“According to Naturalize Now!, more immigrants than ever have applied for U.S. citizenship, a spike coming at a time when the Trump administration is warning all illegal immigrants about deportation,” the Washington Examiner reported:
According to Mi Familia, “The campaign announced on Flag Day that a record-breaking number of aspiring Americans have submitted citizenship applications in 2017, making the second quarter of this year busier than 2016, a federal election year. The Naturalize NOW! campaign is halfway through accomplishing the target goal, with over half a million people submitting applications through the first half of this year.”
Knoxville Mayor Madeline Rogero, a Democrat, is a well known supporter of open borders and pro-illegal immigrant policies.
Sanctuary cities are prohibited under Tennessee law, but a recent effort to turn Nashville into a “sanctuary-city like” jurisdiction was headed towards adoption by the Metro Nashville City Council until a groundswell of political opposition and a legal opinion from the Metro Director of Law forced its withdrawal from consideration.
In Knoxville, Mayor Rogero has vigorously expressed her opposition to full cooperation with federal agents working for the Department of Homeland Security’s Immigration and Customs Enforcement division.
The City of Knoxville has a decidedly different approach than Knox County, where Sheriff Jimmy Jones just signed up to participate in the federal government’s 287 (g) program to strengthen immigration enforcement.
Knoxville, with a population of 185,000 is the county seat of Knox County, which has a population of about 430,000.
“The Knox County Sheriff’s Office was established in 1792 and has grown to be the largest law enforcement agency in East Tennessee. KCSO employs just over 1,000 employees with 475 sworn officers,” the Knox County government website reports.
In March, Rogero met “with representatives of about 20 organizations that serve or advocate for Knoxville’s immigrant communities and then proclaimed “a Day of Immigration Action,” a nationwide observance organized by the U.S. Conference of Mayors,” the Knox Mercury reported:
Knoxville Police Chief David Rausch stood behind Rogero nodding vigorously as Rogero said, “We are not required by law to be ICE (Immigration and Customs Enforcement) agents. Our job is to keep our community safe, and we cannot do that if people are afraid of police.”
Although Knoxville Police do work with ICE, particularly on the pursuit of internet crimes against children, their duties are separate, Rogero emphasized. “We would join with other cities to work against any policies that would require us to be ICE agents,” she said.
Rausch said he has been made aware of situations since Trump’s inauguration when immigrants have been afraid to the call the police.
“Rogero’s meeting provided an opportunity for experts and advocates to share information about the legal, educational, health, and other needs of Knoxville’s immigrants. Rogero said she learned that many children who are U.S. citizens, but whose families may not all be here legally, need to acquire the right documents to prove their citizenship,” according to the Knox Mercury:
Stephanie Teatro, co-executive director of the Tennessee Immigration and Refugee Rights Coalition, says her message for Rogero is that cities to make sure schools, courts and hospitals are free from immigration enforcement so people don’t need to hide and suffer out of fear. Her coalition is fighting for in-state tuition for undocumented students and all state legislation that would limit what cities can do to help immigrants, such as a bill to prevent any Tennessee cities from becoming “sanctuary cities.”
“I think the mayor (Rogero) has taken an exceptional amount of leadership on this issue, and Knoxville could really lead the state,” Teatro said.
Rogero spoke emotionally of her interactions with foreign workers in California during the 1970s, including Filipino farm laborers who couldn’t earn enough money even after three decades to return home or bring their own families to the U.S.
The press conference was held in coordination with other mayors across the U.S., led by the mayors of Los Angeles, Providence, Anaheim, and Seattle, through the U.S. Conference of Mayors.
You can watch the YouTube video that announced the launch of the Naturalize Now campaign in December 2015 here: