Before even being sworn into his first term in office, Representative Bruce Griffey (R-Paris) has been calling for measures to decrease illegal immigration to Tennessee which began with a call for a Resolution supporting President Trump in ending “birth right” citizenship, as reported by The Tennessee Star.
In addition to his proposed Resolution HJR 0047, Griffey has sponsored several bills dealing with issues related to illegal immigrants currently within the state of Tennessee.
As The Star reported, in HB 0562 and companion Senate Bill SB 1504, Representative Griffey and Senator Joey Hensley (R-Hohenwald) want to impose a fee on the transfer of money to outside the United States and its territories, with the goal of helping fund Trump’s proposed border wall. Fees that are not used for southern border protection will go to local sheriff departments for the jails that hold illegals for ICE (U.S. Immigration and Customs).
The fee, applying only to those who could not produce a Tennessee driver’s license or similar, by default applies only to illegal aliens. The House bill is scheduled to be heard March 12 in the Banking & Investments Subcommittee of the House Commerce Committee.
A report by Fox 17 WZTV covered four other bills sponsored in the House by Representative Griffey dealing with illegals in Tennessee.
Griffey’s HB 1239, sponsored by Senator Hensley as SB 1165, expands the requirement of employers in the state from those with 50 employees to those with just six employees as well as all governmental entities to enroll in the E-Verify program to confirm the work authorization status of employees hired on or after January 1, 2020, according to the Tennessee General Assembly website.
Additionally, the bill prohibits state and local governments from acquiring contracted goods or services from any entity that does not provide evidence of the work status of each employee or individual that will receive public money as a result of the contract.
Any entity that violates additional provisions that a contracting entity submit evidence of work status to a state or local government or the submission of false evidence to a state or local government shall be prohibited from contracting for or submitting a response for a contract to supply goods or services to a state or local government for five years following the discovery of the violation, with a provision for an appeals process.
“The Tennessee Lawful Housing Act,” filed under HB 0614 and SB 1167 by the duo of Griffey and Hensley, cites the federal Immigration and Naturalization Act, compiled in 8 U.S.C. Section 1101, and the burdens on the state through the presence of illegal aliens through the cost of public benefits and services, crimes committed and adverse effects on wages.
The bill makes it unlawful to let, sublet, lease, sublease or rent a dwelling unit to an illegal alien and requires that the lessor verify the citizenship and lawful presence in the United States prior to occupancy. There are 11 documents approved under the bill that can be requested from the prospective occupant and then must be maintained by the lessor.
Criminal offenses are set out for violations that increase from a misdemeanor to felony charges along with escalating fines and incarceration for repeat offenders.
HB 0662 and Senate companion bill SB 1278 by Senator Mark Pody (R-Lebanon) deals will birth certificates. The bill adds a new section to Tennessee code that says the state shall not register any birth certified issued to a child born to a mother who is not lawfully in the United States at the time of birth, unless the father is a United States citizens and provides: 1) satisfactory proof of United States citizenship; 2) sworn acknowledgement of paternity; and 3) a written agreement to provide financial support for such child until the child is 18 years of age.
Representative Griffey told The Star it would be an understatement to say that he is getting resistance on HB 0662.
This despite the fact Griffey points out that current state law already requires that a person’s lawful status within the United States be determined by I-9 documentation, although the law also requires emergency treatment not be withheld regardless of a person’s lawful status within the country.
If passed, HB 0662 / SB 1278 would go into effect July 1, 2019.
HB 1238 / SB 1279 by Griffey and Pody requires that a General Session judge presiding over a criminal proceeding to advise the defendant that their answers could result in criminal or civil sanctions and ask the defendant if they are here legally or illegally, according to Griffey.
If the defendant answers that they are here illegally or refuses to answer, the judge is required to order law enforcement, the district attorney and the jail to notify ICE and advise ICE as to who the defendant is and the charges against them.
The bill also requires that a sufficient bond amount be set, because illegals are a flight risk and the bond should cover the costs of retrieving the defendant from outside the country.
HB 1238 is scheduled to be heard March 13 by the House Criminal Justice Subcommittee of the Judiciary Committee.
The “Welfare Reform Act,” under HB 0088 and SB 1273, also by Griffey and Pody, is pending an amendment, but will require drug testing for welfare recipients.
In a statement to The Star, Representative Griffey said,
The intent of all my legislation directed towards illegal immigration, is not to necessarily to punish illegals, but to protect jobs for lawful Tennessee taxpayers and residents. Illegal workers in America hurt the wages of lawful working Americans at the lower end of the pay scale and I want to change that!
Most of my district consist of folks at the lower end of the economic scale. I care about them. I grew up with my constituents!!! I love and care about them, their children, their lives. The more money in the pockets of the folks at the bottom of the economic scale, based on work, the better off everyone in the economy will be!
I want wages for the little guy and gal to increase!!! That applies regardless of a person’s race, creed, color or whatever!!!
It is a slap in the face to every person that waits in line, hired an attorney, paid thousands of dollars, waited for years to get their U.S. citizenship to have corrupt politicians in Washington DC sell their souls to corporate greed for campaign dollars, and throw their fellow Americans under the bus for MONEY and allow people that broke the law to benefit just like those that waited in line!!! I’m sick of it!!! AMERICA IS SICK AND TIRED OF IT!!! I want justice and fairness for Americans FIRST!!!!!
In addition to the indirect costs that Griffey points out, it has been estimated by the Federation for American Immigration Reform that the direct cost to Tennesseans for illegal immigrants numbering 135,000 plus their 46,000 children Tennesseans was $793 million in 2017.
Perhaps best explaining Griffey’s passion for these issues, he told The Star he is happiest when he is fighting against an injustice.
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Laura Baigert is a senior reporter at The Tennessee Star.