TN Republicans Backing Away from Illegal Immigration Activism

Republican leaders in Tennessee appear to be dialing down the heat on illegal immigration, reports Chas Sisk, but activists still worry that the volatile issue could bubble up in an election year.
Gov. Bill Haslam and leaders in the Republican-controlled legislature have said they plan to focus on only one immigration bill — a measure that would require state agencies to check immigration documents — and they are backing away from more controversial proposals, such as police checks and a ban on giving a ride to non-citizens who can’t prove their right to be in the country.
They’ve also moved toward limiting the scope of the one bill they do support.
Advocates for immigrant groups say they believe the moves signal that Republican leaders want to avoid having immigration overshadow their efforts on jobs and education, issues that Tennesseans say weigh heaviest on their minds. But advocates also express doubts about whether the GOP’s rank-and-file will agree to mute the issue or press ahead on a matter that still has the potential to energize conservative voters.
…Nearly 30 bills that deal with immigration had been filed in the legislature as of Friday, but most were holdovers from last year that received only cursory attention. Republican leaders say they have intentionally taken a go-slow approach to illegal immigration, one that avoids triggering legal and political disputes such as those that have followed immigration bills passed recently in Alabama, South Carolina and Georgia.

“We’ve taken a more strategic approach — in a particular bill identifying a problem and finding a solution to that problem,” said state Rep. Joe Carr, R-Lascassas, the GOP’s point man on immigration in the House. “That’s part of the reason we’re being successful about upholding the Constitution.”
…One new bill that is attracting some attention, House Bill 2191, would make it a felony to harbor or transport anyone that a person “knows or reasonably should know is an illegal alien.” State Rep. Tony Shipley, R-Kingsport, and state Sen. Mae Beavers, R-Mt. Juliet, are sponsoring the measure, which is scheduled to have its first hearing in a House subcommittee on Wednesday.
Immigrant groups say the measure is meant to create a climate of suspicion. Many churches also are preparing to oppose the measure, which they say would open them to prosecution for missions as common as shuttling immigrant children to vacation Bible schools or allowing homeless immigrants to stay in church buildings during winter.

Note: There’s also a sidebar on the law approved last session requiring large employers to check the federal “E-Verify” system – or look at a driver’s license – for a prospective employee’s immigration status.
Several Middle Tennessee companies falling under the law, which some skeptics say was so watered down in the legislative debate that it has no real teeth, say it has caused few headaches in practice.
“This is nothing new to us,” Tractor Supply Co. spokesman Randy Guiler said. “There were other states we’re in that already required E-Verify, so we already had procedures in place. All we had to do was implement them in Tennessee.”
But some worry the law could have deeper consequences as it gets applied to smaller businesses. Those with 200 to 499 employees must meet the new requirements by July 1, while businesses with six to 249 employees have a year after that to comply.

One thought on “TN Republicans Backing Away from Illegal Immigration Activism

  1. Donna Locke

    State Rep. Joe Carr is a lackey for the business lobby. He wouldn’t know immigration enforcement if it ran over him.
    Americans, both the Republicans and the Democrats have sold you out.

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