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The Great Smoky Mountain Journal

Tuesday, January 01, 2019 03:01 PM

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Tennessee Sanctuary City Bill Set To Become Law Without Gov. Bill Haslam's Signature

NASHVILLE - The controversial sanctuary city bill is set to become law without Gov. Bill Haslam's signature.

HB2315 passed by an overwhelming number of state legislators in late April, and it's been on Gov. Haslam's desk for a signature since May 10. The bill prohibits cities and counties for adopting policies in order to protect undocumented immigrants from federal agents.

According to the governor, the bill has created unnecessary feat in the state and doesn't change anything about how the state deals with immigration. Gov. Haslam said he's not issuing a veto on the bill because it will just prolong the discussion.

Lt. Gov. Randy McNally said he is pleased that Gov. Haslam is allowing the bill to pass without his signature.

"I believe Gov. Haslam made a wise decision allowing this legislation to pass," McNally said. "There are no sanctuary cities in Tennessee and his action today assures that remains the case. As a supporter of the bill, I believe this is a good result for all."

Haslam confirmed there currently is no sanctuary cities in the state. According to the bill, any city that does not comply with U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement rules would be in violation of state law and lose state funding.

Immigrant advocates have vocally opposed the bill's passage, including the Tennessee Immigrant and Refugee Rights Coalition. The group's co-executive director, Stephanie Teatro, said Gov. Haslam was "presented with a clear choice" to either heed the warnings of police chiefs, educators, domestic violence victims' advocates and legal experts to stop the bill, or choose "hate and fear over good governance."

"In moments like these, leaders are tested," Teatro said. "When history looks back at the steady march of Tennessee towards becoming a hostile and dangerous place for immigrant families, at the rising tide of nativism and xenophobia, and at the immoral attacks on immigrants in this country, Governor Haslam will see himself on the wrong side.