Bill prohibiting sanctuary cities divides officials

Published: Apr. 30, 2018 at 7:54 PM CDT|Updated: May. 1, 2018 at 5:48 AM CDT
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MEMPHIS, TN (WMC) - A so-called sanctuary city bill sitting on Tennessee Governor Bill Haslam's desk is spurring controversy.

Those for it say it's a matter of public safety, while those against the bill said it's unnecessary and could lead to racial profiling.

Shelby County Commissioner Mark Billingsley introduced the resolution before the commission to ask for the governor's veto.

"Literally, you're asking local police to racially profile," Billingsley said.

Billingsley said House Bill 2315 would further divide the Latino community in the Mid-South from law enforcement.

"They're not going to feel comfortable going to the Memphis police seeking help when they may be targeted," Billingsley said.

The bill passed the Tennessee House and Senate last week and only needs Governor Haslam's signature to become law.

It prohibits the adoption of sanctuary policies and would allow the withholding of some state grant funding for local governments that do so. Tennessee law already prohibits the establishment of sanctuary cities.

The measure also stipulates that local law enforcement to comply with carrying out ICE detention orders, which lead to deportation.

Opponents said the bill is too broad and could have unintended consequences and costs.

Supporters said it backs up the role of law enforcement in the state.

"Sanctuary city policies, whether spoken or unspoken, put our citizens at increased risk," said Senator Mark Green (R) of Clarksville. "Because they encourage lawbreakers to concentrate in those cities."

Mauricio Calvo, Executive Director of Latino Memphis, called the bill an overreach.

"It's not the job of the state or the city to enforce immigration laws," Calvo said.

Memphis Mayor Jim Strickland also expressed concern Monday.

A spokesperson wrote in a statement,

"As the mayor has said before, Memphis is a welcoming city that values diversity an each and every one of our citizens. That won't change. The mayor is reviewing the bill and believes it may pose an unnecessary risk to police officers and the public they serve."

Governor Haslam's office has not specified if he intends to sign or veto the bill or when a decision would be expected.

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