Tennessee Governor Allows Anti-Sanctuary Bill to Become Law
By Shari Rendall | May 23, 2018
After weeks of pressure from all sides, Tennessee Governor Bill Haslam (R) announced on May 21 that he would allow House Bill (HB) 2315—a bill dramatically strengthening the Volunteer State’s sanctuary-city ban—to become law without his signature. This has the same legal effect as if he had signed it.
Supporters of illegal immigration had been making their opinions loudly known and demanding the Governor veto the bill ever since the legislature passed it overwhelmingly on April 25. The bill’s opponents held two rallies against it in Nashville on May 3 and May 16. The county commission in Shelby County, home to Memphis, and Nashville/Davidson County’s consolidated city-county Metro Council also both passed resolutions calling on Haslam to veto it. The Memphis Flyer called it a “mass deportation bill” and quoted a comment from the open-borders lobby condemning Haslam for not vetoing it.
In his letter to House Speaker Beth Harwell (R-Nashville), returning HB 2315 to the House without his signature, the Governor first took the opportunity to criticize the bill as a “solution looking for a problem.” Nonetheless, he stated that if he had vetoed it, he believed the legislature would likely have reconvened and been able to override his veto. Therefore, he argued, it was time to “move on.”
Governor Haslam also apparently believes the oft-repeated talking point that “Tennessee has no sanctuary cities,” and said so. But while no local governments in Tennessee have formally embraced the sanctuary label, FAIR’s recent report, Sanctuary Jurisdictions Nearly Double Since President Trump Promised to Enforce Our Immigration Laws, lists Nashville, Memphis and Knoxville as sanctuary cities in Tennessee because they have sanctuary policies.
Speaker Harwell said that despite the Governor’s reservations, she appreciated his allowing the bill to become law, as it “will further allow our local, state, and federal officials to work together to keep our communities safe.” Tennessee Senate Speaker Randy McNally (R-Oak Ridge) likewise described Haslam’s move to not veto the bill as a “wise decision.”
HB 2315 goes into effect on January 1, 2019, which gives local governments and law enforcement plenty of time to prepare.