The Tennessee legislative session is coming to a controversial close. According to The Tennessean, On April 25, House Bill 2315 passed 64-to-23 in the House and 27-to-5 in Senate. Despite the one-sided votes, record numbers of rallies, letters and calls pour into Governor Bill Haslam’s office asking for a veto.
According to News 2 in Nashville, “Governor Bill Haslam’s office says there have been more calls to veto the so-called ‘sanctuary cities’ bill than any other measure this past legislative session.”
After the massive ICE raid on April 5, in Morristown, TN, when over 100 immigrants were separated from their families, the state plans to make mass deportation an official policy. Essentially, Tennessee passed a bill that would turn the local law enforcement into a deportation force.
According to The Tennessean, the bill will ultimately:
- Prevent cities and counties from enacting sanctuary city policies to protect undocumented people from detention by federal officers.
- Cut off economic and community development money from local communities that enact sanctuary city policies.
- Allow local law enforcement to question anyone of their choosing about their background or homelife.
- Turn local law enforcement into deportation officers.
The major concern at schools like Central lies in the bill’s allowance for school resource officers to question students about their home-life without any preceding incident, which may lead to deportation of parents or other family members. Students will be pulled out of school as a result their parents’ fear.
Stephanie Teatro, Co-Executive Director of the Tennessee Immigrant and Refugee Rights Coalition, says, “HB 2315 sets a dangerous precedent by severely restricting the ability of local police to make common-sense, public safety decisions, and forcing local governments to bear the risk and expense of federal immigration enforcement.”
Republican gubernatorial candidates like Diane Black and Randy Boyd have already made campaign commercials promising their commitment to enforcing the immigration law. In Black’s video she even said that local and state law enforcement will “enforce the law or else.”
While many are urging Haslam to veto and approve the bill, he has not come up with a final decision yet. Haslam is an advocate for education, economic opportunities, and a booster for the improvement of Tennesseans. While he is all of these things, he is also a man who shows dignity to his fellow human being – therefore, it will be difficult for him to vote one way or the other on the bill.
On May 10, the bill was transmitted to the governor for him to make his decision. After her received the bill he would have 10 days (excluding Sundays) to decide. Haslam will have until the 22nd of May to make a decision about the bill.