Sanctuary city bill enters legislature

Xavier Smith • Updated Jan 28, 2017 at 12:30 PM

A Tennessee legislator has filed language against sanctuary cities one day after President Donald Trump signed an executive order against sanctuary cities.

Sen. Mark Green, R-Clarksville, filed the bill that would prohibit state and local governmental entities and officials from adopting or enacting sanctuary policies.

The term “sanctuary city” has no precise legal meaning, but is broadly considered to mean any city in the U.S. that adopts a policy of protecting undocumented or illegal immigrants by not prosecuting them for violating federal immigration laws.

The bill also allows the state attorney general and reporter to receive complaints regarding violations of the bill, which would result in an investigation into the allegations.

If the attorney general determines a state government entity or official has adopted or enacted a sanctuary policy, the entity, or entity to which the official belongs, would become ineligible to receive any state money.

Trump's executive order states sanctuary cities are “ineligible to receive federal grants,” which could mean the loss of millions of federal dollars for some of the country’s major cities.

Many major cities have been designated sanctuary cities for illegal immigrants, including Baltimore, Chicago, Dallas, Denver, Houston, Los Angeles, Miami, Seattle, San Francisco and more.

Nashville, although Mayor Megan Barry has voiced support for undocumented immigrants, does not qualify as a sanctuary city because of steps taken by the city against illegal immigrants. Nashville offers a 48-hour detainment for illegal immigrants if requested by immigration agents and submits a suspect’s fingerprint information to the FBI.

In 2009, the Tennessee state legislature passed a bill, sponsored by Rep. Joe Carr and Sen. Jim Tracy, that would prohibit local municipalities from enacting sanctuary city policies that make it hard for government employees to comply with federal immigration law. 

The Mt. Juliet City Commission unanimously passed a resolution last year, sponsored by Vice Mayor James Maness, which proclaimed Mt. Juliet as a “rule of law” city.

Mt. Juliet mayor Ed Hagerty said the proclamation had “no teeth” and was meant to send a message the city would not tolerate immigrants who were in Mt. Juliet illegally. Hagety admitted the proclamation was more to set tone than set law that could be enforceable in some way.

Colleen Creamer, special to the Lebanon Democrat, contributed to this report. 

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