State Representative Jay Reedy (R-Erin), the House sponsor of HB2315, the 2018 legislation that prohibits state and local governmental entities and officials from adopting sanctuary policies, issued a statement Tuesday afternoon on behalf of legislators that addresses Nashville’s continued flouting of both state and federal laws.
“Nashville is subject to the laws of the State of Tennessee and the United States of America, and the laws of both are clear: Sanctuary policies that shield illegal aliens are themselves illegal,” the statement said.
“The law states clearly that local government entities that do not comply are potentially ‘ineligible to enter into any grant contract with the department of economic and community development,’ the statement continued.
On Tuesday morning, Nashville Mayor David Briley, who by all accounts trails At-large Metro Council member John Cooper in the September 12 mayoral runoff election, stepped up the city’s flouting of state and federal laws when he issued an executive order that, among other things, calls on the Nashville Davidson County delegation of the Tennessee General Assembly to fight to repeal HB2315.
Briley’s executive order, in effect, declares Metropolitan Nashville/Davidson County to be a sovereign state, with rights equal to or superior to those constitutionally authorized rights of the state of Tennessee as well as the federal government of the United States. Its component elements, as reported earlier on Monday by The Tennessee Star, are the following:
• Unless they are issued with a valid and properly issued warrant, no Metro agency or Metro employee or agent will give ICE or CBP access to a person being detained by or in the custody of that agent or agency. No Metro agency or Metro employee or agent will transfer any person into ICE or CBP custody.
• No Metro agency or Metro employee will permit ICE or CBP agents to use Metro facilities, information or equipment, including any agency, electronic databases, for investigative interviews or any other investigative purpose or to execute an immigration enforcement operation.
• No Metro agency or Metro employee or agent may spend time responding to ICE or CBP inquiries or communicating with ICE or CBP regarding a person’s custody, status, release date, or home or work address. The city will only cooperate in the context of a valid public records request or otherwise something required by state or federal law.
• Metro employees, agents or agencies may also not request information from a person about their citizenship or immigration status unless such inquiry or investigation is required by ordinance or ordered for state or federal law.
“Meanwhile, while we wait for this law to be declared unconstitutional, all Metro employees should know they will not be disciplined by the city or their supervisors for failure to comply with a request from ICE unless required by state or federal law,” Briley said before he announced the following executive actions:
• Every Metro department head and agency director must designate a person within his or her department or agency to get notified if an employee or an agent receives a request to support or assist an immigration enforcement act. The designee will communicate that request to the department head or director and document that request in a memorandum and send it to the Mayor’s Office of New Americans within three business days.
• Metro police officers will not inquire about people’s country of origin, and the MNPD will remove country of origin from municipal citations.
Reedy’s statement, titled “Nashville is Part of Tennessee and Tennessee is Part of the United States. The City Must Respect the Anti-Sanctuary Laws of Both,” has been signed onto by 32 members of the State House of Representatives as well as nine Senators, all Republicans, and specifically addresses the issue of whether Briley’s new executive order is legal.
You can read the full statement here:
Last year, the Tennessee Legislature approved House Bill 2315, now Public Chapter 973, which requires all law enforcement agencies in the state to fully cooperate with federal immigration officials in compliance with federal and state laws.
“The explicit aim of HB 2315 was to prohibit formal or de facto sanctuary policies, under which local governments or law enforcement departments in Tennessee shield illegal aliens from detection, or refuse to honor lawful requests by the Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) agency to remand individuals who are in their custody for removal. The law was enacted to protect the welfare and safety of all citizens of Tennessee, and is consistent with a federal statute that prohibits so-called sanctuary policies.
“Nashville, the state’s capital and largest city, continues to flout both federal and state law and provide sanctuary to illegal aliens, including criminal aliens. Recently, Mayor David Briley asserted his refusal to ‘use our local resources to enforce ICE orders,’ and to ensure that ‘resources are available for undocumented immigrants should the need arise.’
“In addition to obstructing the enforcement of federal immigration laws by duly authorized federal authorities, Nashville officials are further compromising the public interest by failing to comply with Public Chapter 973. Under the law, recalcitrant city officials are jeopardizing much needed funding from the state. The law states clearly that local government entities that do not comply are potentially ‘ineligible to enter into any grant contract with the department of economic and community development.’
“We strongly urge Nashville officials to act in the best interests of law-abiding citizens of the city. Nashville is subject to the laws of the State of Tennessee and the United States of America, and the laws of both are clear: Sanctuary policies that shield illegal aliens are themselves illegal.”
Reedy released the statement on September 3 via email, addressing it to Metro Nashville Davidson County officials Mayor David Briley, Chief of Police Steve Anderson and Sheriff Daron Hall, with the simple phrase, “Please protect the citizens of Tennessee!”
You can see the statement in PDF form here:
Just a week after Briley made it to the run-off mayoral election against John Cooper in early August, The Tennessee Star reported that Briley tweeted a how-to video in Spanish, advising illegal aliens how to avoid capture by ICE (U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement.)
Last week, Briley called for the Metro Nashville Davidson County Office of Internal Audit to conduct a full investigation and performance audit of the General Sessions Probation Department for reportedly proactively sharing probationers’ personal information and other data with an ICE agent, The Star also reported.
Reedy’s anti-sanctuary legislation, after quite a battle and numerous amendments, passed during the 110th Tennessee General Assembly under HB2315 with the companion SB2332 sponsored by then State Senator Mark Green (R-Clarksville). The bills had co-sponsors numbering 67 in the State House and 11 in the State Senate.
While the bill was sent to Governor Bill Haslam on May 10, 2018, it was returned and passed into law without his signature but with a letter explaining his reasoning. The legislation became Public Chapter No. 973, with Governor Haslam’s letter attached, and went into effect January 1, 2019.
At the time, then candidate for governor, Bill Lee, issued a statement opposing sanctuary cities. He said sanctuary cities “embrace lawlessness and put our entire state at risk. I would use every single tool in my power to stop them and enforce the rule of law.”
“As governor, I would sign the bill,” concluded Lee.
The 2019 law states that if a chancery court finds a local government entity or official is in violation of the law, the court shall issue a writ of mandamus against the entity or official ordering compliance, enjoining the entity or official from further interference and taking other action other action to ensure compliance as is within the jurisdiction of the court.
In addition, upon a finding by the court of the local government adopting a sanctuary policy, that entity becomes ineligible to enter into any grant contract with the State’s Department of Economic and Community Development.
Reedy clearly spells out in the statement about and to Nashville officials, “Public Chapter 973 [which] requires all law enforcement agencies in the state to fully cooperate with federal immigration officials in compliance with federal and state laws.”
“The explicit aim,” Reedy goes on to explain about the legislation, “was to prohibit formal or de facto sanctuary policies, under which local governments or law enforcement departments in Tennessee shield illegal aliens from detection, or refuse to honor lawful requests by the Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) agency to remand individuals who are in their custody for removal. The law was enacted to protect the welfare and safety of all citizens of Tennessee, and is consistent with a federal statute that prohibits so-called sanctuary policies.”
Reedy calls out sanctuary activities in Nashville, the State’s capital city, as it “continues to flout both federal and state law and provide sanctuary to illegal aliens, including criminal aliens.”
Alluding to specific actions by the mayor, Reedy details, “Recently, Mayor David Briley asserted his refusal to ‘use our local resources to enforce ICE orders,’ and to ensure that ‘resources are available for undocumented immigrants should the need arise.’”
In addition to obstructing enforcement of federal immigration laws, Reedy advises that Nashville officials are further compromising the public’s interest by jeopardizing much needed economic and community development funding.
Reedy told The Star that it is “just appalling that Briley says he will abide by the law, then he turns his back on it.”
“He’s not protecting the citizens of Nashville, let alone Tennessee, by his actions.”
In Briley’s mayoral campaign, Reedy told The Star, “He’s definitely playing to left, but when you have criminal illegal aliens, you would think you would want the federal agents to remove them to protect your citizens from theft, rape, and murder.”
At the time of this writing, Lt. Governor Randy McNally (R-Oak Ridge) and House Speaker Cameron Sexton (R-Crossville) have not responded to Reedy’s offer to sign on to the statement.
Laura Baigert is a senior reporter at The Tennessee Star.