Tennessee Passes New Immigration Law, Following Arizona’s Law

Posted: August 19, 2010 in Nitegator
Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , ,

Tennessee Governor Phil Bredesen (D) signed a bill June 28, 2010 that creates provisions similar to, but less harsh than, those of SB 1070, including requiring city and county jails in the state to report any person who may be in violation of immigration laws to U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement.

A decision that follows recent state and local crackdowns on undocumented immigration — particularly Arizona’s SB 1070 and a Nebraska town’s vote to limit job and housing opportunities to undocumented immigrants — Bredesen’s vote for Tennessee’s House bill 670 isn’t surprising.

A Nashville Public Radio article also points out that a recent poll claims most Tennesseans favor laws like the ones House bill 670 puts into place. Tennessee also has a history of laws cracking down on undocumented immigrants. In 2007, lawmakers proposed over 40 changes to state law that targeted undocumented immigrants. That same year, Bredesen signed a bill that allows the state to deny, suspend or revoke the employers’ business licenses if they knowingly employ undocumented immigrants. Earlier this month, Bredesen allowed a resolution that applauded Arizona on their new immigration to pass without his signature.

The basis of the Tennessee law is clearly not as harsh as Arizona’s. After all, Tennessee’s provision focuses on questioning the immigration status of only those actually arrested. But under the bill, local law enforcement agencies are even required to contact federal immigration officials if the citizenship of a person in custody can not be confirmed within three days — something that concerns civil rights groups because it could potentially affect Americans who simply aren’t able to produce evidence of their legal status. The bill does, however, require the state to develop of a standardized procedure for verifying the citizenship status of anyone who’s arrested.

Sponsored by two Republicans, the legislation first passed the House in May 2009, but it died in the Senate. It was called up for a floor vote in May this year, and it finally passed in early June. The ACLU and the Tennessee Immigrant and Refugee Rights Coalition had previously asked Bredesen, who has said he does have some concerns, to veto the bill. HB 670 will go into effect Jan. 1, 2011.

The New Immigration Law:

Conference Committee Report on
House Bill No. 670 / Senate Bill No. 1141
The House and Senate Conference Committee appointed pursuant to motions to
resolve the differences between the two houses on House Bill No. 670 (Senate Bill No. 1141)
has met and recommends that the following amendments be deleted: House Amendment No.
1 and Senate Amendments No. 6, 10, 11, 14, 2, 3, 4, 5, 9, 12, 13, 23, 24(as amended by 1 and 3), 25, 28, 29, 30, 32.

The Committee further recommends that the following amendment be adopted:
by deleting all language after the enacting clause and by substituting instead the following:
SECTION 1. Tennessee Code Annotated, Title 40, Chapter 7, Part 1, is amended by
adding a new section thereto:
§ 40-7-123.
(a) The Tennessee peace officer standards and training commission shall
develop a standardized written procedure for verifying the citizenship status of
individuals who are arrested, booked, or confined for any period in a county or municipal
jail or detention facility and reporting to the appropriate Immigration and Customs
Enforcement Detention and Removal Operations field office those individuals who may
be in violation of the Immigration and Naturalization Act, as compiled in 8 U.S.C §1101
et seq.
(b) When a person is arrested, booked or confined for any period in the jail of
the county or any municipality, the keeper of the jail shall utilize the above-referenced
procedure to verify the citizenship status of each arrested, booked, or otherwise
confined individual and report those individuals to the appropriate Immigration and
Customs Enforcement Detention and Removal Operations field office if the keeper of
the jail determines that the individual is in violation of the Immigration and Naturalization
Act, as compiled in 8 U.S.C §1101 et seq., or if such status cannot be determined.

(c) The provisions of this section shall not apply to any county or municipality
that has entered into and is operating under a memorandum of understanding with the
United States department of homeland security concerning enforcement of federal
immigration laws.
(d) The provisions of this section shall not apply to any county or municipality
while it participates in the U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement Criminal Alien
Program (CAP).
SECTION 2. This act shall take effect on January 1, 2011, the public welfare requiring it.

_______________________________ _______________________________
Senator Dolores Gresham Representative Vance Dennis
_______________________________ _______________________________
Senator Charlotte Burks Representative Barrett Rich
_______________________________ ____________________________________
Senator Jim Tracy Representative Eddie Bass

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