Monday, June 17, 2024

Tennessee GOP Anti-Immigration Bills Out of Step with Constituent Concerns

On Wednesday, Tennessee State Rep. Joe Carr introduced a package of tough anti-immigration bills including one mimicking Arizona’s controversial SB 1070.

Carr and Republican Senate sponsor Bill Ketron of Murfreesboro asserted during a press conference that they believed their legislation would survive a court challenge. 

Hedy Weinberg, executive director of the American Civil Liberties Union of Tennessee, said the group would pursue litigation if the bills pass unchanged.

As reported in the Knoxville News Sentinel, the plan will address three specific areas of the law.  One would make it legal for law enforcement to determine the legal status of a person during a lawful stop; another would require state agencies to do the same and prohibit the distribution of benefits;, and the final piece of the plan would require all employers–both public and private–to submit the names and Social Security numbers of all employees to the federal Department of Homeland Security for verification.

“I believe this plan, utilizing three separate pieces of legislation, is the best way to bring a Tennessee solution to a Tennessee problem that has been mandated by 72 percent of Tennesseans,” said Carr, the Chairman of the House Illegal Immigration Task Force.

“By taking a comprehensive approach that targets three distinct areas of the law, we can bring the reform demanded by so many of our citizens. I believe this plan will place Tennessee at the forefront of State efforts to combat illegal immigration and provide a blueprint for other States to follow.”

Many immigrant rights groups have spoken out against these measures and agree that the Tennessee legislature should focus more on job creation and the economy.

A recent statewide poll released by Vanderbilt University cites the current focus on anti-immigrant bills is clearly not in line with the views of the constituents.  Nearly 57% of Tennesseans, regardless of party identification, said job creation and the economy were much more important policy priorities.

Stephen Fotopulos, executive director of the Tennessee Immigrant & Refugee Rights Coalition called the proposals a “major distraction for a state in economic crisis.”

“If Tennessee wants to get its economy moving again, we need to fully realize the economic contributions of immigrant entrepreneurs and international companies operating in the state. Putting Tennessee on the list of places unfriendly to immigrants and international investors is certainly not the solution. Just ask the people of Arizona. This will cost jobs for all Tennesseans at exactly the time we need them most.”

Knoxville News Sentinel


  1. We must all do things lawfully and orderly. We must also keep our focus on the importance of job creation and economic development during these challenging times we find many of our brothers and sisters, of ALL colors and creeds, fighting the good fight everyday. Diversity, FAITH, and our strength in each other within our respective local communities WILL BE the sweet fragrance of HOPE and Purpose that will lift up ALL the ships in our waters to become a “rich” Nation once again. Sacrifice of our older generations for the future survival of our entreprenuerial kids to take their place a leaders, will be a necessary “call” coming soon to many.