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Tennessee Governor Bill Haslam will not sign 'sanctuary cities' bill

Gov Bill Haslam.png

NASHVILLE, Tenn.--Tennessee Governor Bill Haslam says he will not be signing the 'sanctuary cities' bill passed by the state legislature.

HB 2315 was passed by lawmakers and signed by House Speaker Beth Harwell on May 2.

Haslam will not sign the bill but will allow it to become law without his signature.

The bill will not only ban local governments and officials from adopting sanctuary policies, it authorizes residents and legislators to file complaints with the Attorney Generals Office for investigation. Local law enforcement agencies would also be expected to work with federal agencies such as ICE via "memorandums of agreement.

Per the Associated Press last week, Haslam stated there aren't sanctuary cities in Tennessee, and by his reading, they're illegal under state law.

Haslam also said he doesn't think it's a mass deportation bill, saying it doesn't require local officials to do anything they didn't have to do before. He said his administration is taking its time to see exactly how much discretion the bill does take away.

The bill was met with strong opposition by groups such as the Tennessee Immigrant and Refugee Rights Coalition (TIRRC). TIRRC helped organize protests in the wake of an April raid at a Tennessee meat packing plant by ICE where 100 workers were detained. TIRRC called it the largest workplace raid under the Trump administration and claimed workers reported "rough treatment and detention despite having work authorization."

The ACLU of Tennessee Executive Director Hedy Weinberg also issued a statement following Haslam's announcement, expressing their "disappointment."

"We are extremely disappointed in Governor Haslam's decision to allow this unconstitutional and dangerous legislation to become law without his signature. Immigrants should not have to live with the constant fear that any local police officer or sheriff they encounter is a de facto immigration agent. By allowing this bill to become law, the governor has ensured that thousands of Tennesseans will be forced to live in the shadows, in fear of reporting when they are victims or witnesses to crimes and undermining local law enforcement's ability to use their discretion and resources in the way that they believe best protects public safety in their local community. The dangerous impact this bill will have on immigrant communities has led to a public outcry throughout the state and from all corners of the country, and it is disgraceful that the governor chose not to listen to the diverse voices united in calling for immigrants in our state to be treated fairly, in alignment with the Constitution."

Lt. Governor Randy McNally stated the following:

"I believe Gov. Haslam made a wise decision allowing this legislation to pass. There are no sanctuary cities in Tennessee and his action today assures that remains the case. As a supporter of the bill, I believe this is a good result for all."?

Speaker of the House Beth Harwell said:

"I appreciate Governor Haslam allowing House Bill 2315 to become law. This measure will further allow our local, state, and federal officials to work together to keep our communities safe, building on the law we passed in 2009 to outlaw sanctuary city policies."

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