Repeated efforts by House members to derail the anti-sanctuary city bill were unable to stop it from passing on a 64 – 23 vote.
Bill sponsor Rep. Jay Reedy carefully explained that sanctuary policies are intended to obstruct cooperation with federal immigration authorities and that these policies protect people who have been arrested for committing a crime under Tennessee law and are then discovered to also be wanted by ICE.
Reedy’s explanation did not stop Rep. Patsy Hazlewood from trying to persuade her colleagues not to support the bill.
Hazlewood will have a Democrat challenger in the general election.
Democrats in both the House and Senate spoke to wanting stronger laws to stop illegal aliens from working in Tennessee.
Caucus Chairman Rep. Mike Stewart introduced an amendment that would criminalize employing illegal aliens and make it a Class E felony. In 2011, however, the U.S. Supreme Court held that states could only impose sanctions on employers through measures like revoking business licenses.
Rep. Reedy invited Stewart to work with him next session on strengthening the state’s E-verify statute.
Sen. Mark Green passed the Senate companion bill SB 2332, with a solid 23 -5 vote.
“We’ve seen time and again that the consequences of illegal immigration can be severe, and sometimes, even deadly,” stated Senator Green. “This bill puts Tennesseans first.”
The Green-Reedy bill closes the loophole in Tennessee’s current sanctuary city law that would have enabled the Metro Nashville Council to skirt the law and institute a practice of “don’t ask so you don’t have to know or tell” and in this way obstruct cooperation with federal immigration authorities, shielding illegal aliens who had committed crimes under Tennessee law.
Rep. Jay Reedy shepherded his bill through multiple committees and multiple meetings for the purpose of “ensuring that the safety of our communities and our state are never jeopardized by policies that protect bad actors. House Bill 2315 empowers our law enforcement communities to take action against those here illegally and holds communities who implement sanctuary city policies accountable.”
The bill adds teeth to the existing sanctuary cities law by prohibiting local governments that enact sanctuary cities from receiving future economic development grants from the state.