Incoming governor requests policy review of Shelby County immigration procedures

Updated: Jan. 18, 2019 at 10:20 PM CST
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MEMPHIS, TN (WMC) - Governor-elect Bill Lee announced an investigation Friday into whether or not Shelby County is breaking the law by ignoring the state’s new immigration policy.

The no-sanctuary city law went into effect January 1.

The following day, Shelby County announced it would not honor the law.

Shelby County Commission Chairman Van Turner said county leaders welcome a review of the state's new immigration law.

"The law is flawed and that's why you saw the local law enforcement agencies here press the pause button," said Turner.

The law requires local law enforcement to honor ICE detainers by holding people for 48 hours after their release date, to give federal immigration authorities time to decide what to do with them.

Shelby County stopped doing that after the highly publicized arrest of Memphis journalist Manuel Duran during a protest last year.

The sheriff's department announced it wouldn't detain anyone without a warrant or cause.

County Attorney Marlinee Iverson wrote, "the language is unclear...requiring potentially unconstitutional conduct by law enforcement."

The state's top GOP leaders were quick to react.

Senate Speaker Randy McNally warned, "refusal will result in the forfeit of state economic and community development grants."

Now, Governor Elect Bill Lee has ordered an investigation and local leaders agree that it is needed.

"We want safe communities. But when we go about it in an unjust way, which is unfair, un-American and unconstitutional... we have issues," said Turner.

The county attorney under the previous republican administration and Iverson are also in agreement on the issue.

Governor Haslam let the bill become law without his signature, calling it a “solution looking for a problem.”

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