Tennessee Legislature Puts Teeth into Anti-Sanctuary Law
By Shari Rendall | April 27, 2018
On the very last day of the legislative session, following a tremendous battle, the Tennessee legislature passed a bill that enhances their state's anti-sanctuary law. Despite repeated efforts to derail the bill, the House eventually passed it 64-23 and the Senate 27-4. This legislation denies state economic and community development grants to state entities, and local jurisdictions that implement policies intended to interfere with federal immigration enforcement and provide "sanctuary" to illegal aliens.
Despite having 68 cosponsors, the anti-sanctuary legislation, House Bill (HB) 2315, weathered many bumps on the way to being passed and was resurrected from near death.
In the House State Government Committee, the bill faced opposition from the Tennessee Immigrant and Refugee Rights Coalition (TIRRC), which claimed that provisions requiring law enforcement agencies to honor ICE detainer requests were unconstitutional. The bill's sponsor, Rep. Jay Reedy (R-Erin) held his ground noting that the 5th Circuit Court of Appeals held that it is constitutional to honor federal immigration detainer requests.
Additionally, Rep. Reedy had to ward off an amendment – sponsored by Rep. Jason Powell (D-Nashville) intended to eviscerate the bill. Thanks to questioning by two anti-sanctuary stalwarts, it failed 4-5. Rep. Powell also offered an amendment designed to kill the bill by sending it to summer study. This, too, failed 4-6. HB 2315 then passed the House State Government Committee 6-3 with one Republican not voting.
After hobbling out of the State Government Committee, HB 2315 almost died in the House Finance, Ways, and Means Committee. An amendment offered Rep. Patsy Hazlewood (R-Signal Mountain) to send the bill to the Tennessee Advisory Commission on Intergovernmental Relations for a study initially passed by a voice vote. However, Rep. Gary Hicks (R-Rogersville) asked for a motion to reconsider the bill. When the bill was reconsidered, it passed the Finance Committee 12-9.
In the Senate, Sen. Mark Green (R-Clarksville) experienced less resistance to his anti-sanctuary legislation, Senate Bill (SB) 2332. After agreeing to minor changes in the bill's language that did not impact its overall intent, the Senate State and Local Government Committee voted 7-1 to send it to the floor for a vote.
On the floor, Sen. Green pushed back consideration of SB 2332 until the House had the opportunity to pass HB 2315. Upon the Senate's receipt of the HB 2315, Sen. Green substituted the House passed bill for his own, which, in turn, passed a Senate vote 27-4.
The anti-sanctuary legislation now goes to Governor Bill Haslam (R). Gov. Haslam has 10 days, after the bill has been sent to him, to sign or veto it. If he does not act, the bill becomes law. Gov. Haslam has not commented on whether he will sign the legislation, however, several Republicans running for Governor have made sanctuary cities a key component of their campaign.