Metro Nashville Council published its Tuesday meeting agenda and the agenda contains an ordinance that bans cooperation with U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) using License Plate Scanner (LPR) technology.
The Metro Nashville Council legislative staff prepared agenda analysis says that the proposed ordinance violates state law because it would create a sanctuary city policy, which is explicitly banned by state law.
**This ordinance, if enacted, will violate state law: Title 7, Chapter 68, Part 101, et seq., of the Tennessee Code Annotated (the “Act”).**
A court will likely find that this ordinance violates the Act-which prohibits a local governmental entity from adopting a “sanctuary policy”-because the ordinance would prohibit a department from using the LPR system/information to assist federal officials with immigration compliance. Section 1 of the ordinance explicitly contravenes the Act. The Act provides that “No local governmental entity or official shall adopt or enact a sanctuary policy.” A “sanctuary policy” is defined as one that, among other things, “limits or prohibits any local governmental entity or official from communicating or cooperating with federal agencies or officials to verify or report the immigration status of any alien.” Section 1, as proposed, would be an express adoption of a sanctuary policy as defined by the Act because it proposes to prohibit any department within the Metropolitan Government from utilizing the LPR system or collected information to cooperate with federal officials in connection with immigration laws of the United States.
The staff agenda analysis also says that if the proposed ordinance is enacted, the Metro Nashville government would lose eligibility to enter into grant contracts with the state department of economic and community development until such time as Section 1 of the ordinance is repealed.
Tennessee state law provides residents of a county or municipality with the ability to file a complaint in court if they believe that local government is engaging in violations of the law. In this case, if a court were to decide that Metro Council has adopted a sanctuary city policy, the agenda analysis states that “it can order that the Metropolitan Government comply with the Act, enjoin the Metropolitan Government from further interference with the Act, and take other necessary action to ensure compliance.”
The burden of proof, according to state law, is a preponderance of the evidence.
The Tennessee Star previously reported that the ordinance in question, BL2022-1116, is sponsored by Councilmembers Bob Mendes, Dave Rosenberg, Burkley Allen, and Ginny Welsch. The ordinance passed on first reading at the February 15 Metro Council meeting. The proposal is now on second reading.
Currently, it is unclear if or how the analysis will affect the trajectory of this proposed legislation.
Two other ordinances that deal with LPR use are on second reading, BL2022-1114 and BL2022-1116, which both deal with defining personally identifiable information and ensuring data access parity for the Community Oversight Board. A six-month LPR pilot program was approved at the February 8 meeting.
Other issues included on Metro Council’s agenda deal with zoning, lighting regulations, contracts, grant approvals, commission appointments, and approval of notaries.
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Aaron Gulbransen is a reporter at The Tennessee Star and The Star News Network. Email tips to [email protected] Follow Aaron on GETTR.
Photo “Immigration and Customs Enforcement” by U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement.