Tennessee’s Immigration Bill: Balancing Law Enforcement and Human Rights


Current law permits local law enforcement authorities to notify the federal government when they apprehend someone who is not permitted to be in the United States. A bill sent to the governor would mandate it. Sen. Charlane Oliver, a Democrat from Nashville, says the bill sounds like slavery-era practices in the South.

“This bill seems to have some remnants of the past when I think about during the slave patrols when folks had to carry papers to make sure that they were free,” Oliver remarked.

Others oppose the plan, fearing it will lead to over-policing and prejudice against people of color. The measure’s sponsor, Republican Sen. Brent Taylor of Memphis, attempted to assuage worries.

“This is not going down and hunting somebody who looks Hispanic, pulling them over and demanding papers that is an absurdity to even suggest such a thing,” Taylor went on to say. ”

All we’re asking is that if you’re here illegally and commit another crime, law enforcement report you to federal officials so that they can decide whether or not that person should be deported from our country.”

The bill now goes to Gov. Bill Lee for his signature. It is one of several measures introduced this year to target people who are illegally present in Tennessee.

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