House Moves Forward With Bills To Strengthen Tennessee’s Law Banning Sanctuary Cities

The House moved forward this week with two bills designed to strengthen Tennessee’s law prohibiting sanctuary cities.

The first bill, House Bill 2315, ensures that state and local government entities are prohibited from adopting or enacting sanctuary policies, whether they are in written form or not, which shield illegal aliens from state and federal immigration laws.

A sanctuary city is a term given to a city in the United States that follows practices that protect illegal aliens. The term generally applies to cities that do not allow funds or resources to be used to cooperate with federal immigration laws, usually by not allowing police or government employees to inquire about an individual’s immigration status.

Legislation was passed in 2009 making sanctuary cities illegal in Tennessee. However, the law defined a sanctuary city as one which has written or stated policies, leaving a loophole for those which quietly choose not to cooperate with state and federal laws.

This legislation expands the definition of what a sanctuary city is beyond a written policy. It also creates a reporting mechanism for residents to make a complaint. In addition, the proposal puts teeth in the law by cutting off economic and community grant money to any Tennessee city that adopts policies which are in violation.

The second bill designed to fight back against sanctuary cities, House Bill 2312, prohibits state and local government officials or employees from accepting consular identification cards and other similar documents which are not authorized by the General Assembly for identification purposes. The bill is a preemptive measure to ensure that abuses seen in other cities in the U.S. to issue government identification cards to illegal aliens are not implemented in Tennessee. Matricula consular cards, which are issued by the Government of Mexico to Mexican nationals residing outside the country, were prohibited as a source of identification for receiving a driver’s license under a law adopted by the Tennessee General Assembly in 2003 after widespread abuse was reported.

Both bills will next be heard by the House State Government Committee.