Action by State Senate Committee Would Deter “Sanctuary Cities” for Illegal Aliens in Tennessee

April 11, 2008

The State Senate and Local Government Committee has approved legislation to cut off economic and community grant money to any Tennessee city that might declare itself a "sanctuary city" for illegal aliens. The bill aims to deter the creation of any local zones where aliens could live illegally in the state.

Sanctuary communities are a danger to the public because illegal immigrants who commit crimes are able to repeat their offenses instead of being dealt with by immigration officials,” said Senator Mae Beavers (R-Mt. Juliet). “San Francisco, Los Angeles, New York, and many more localities are evolving into ‘city-states.’ They've sprung up all over the country, declaring their independence from the rule of law. During a time when our borders are being used as gateways for terrorists and other illegal activities, there is no reason for knowingly providing illegal aliens with sanctuary from prosecution.”

A sanctuary city is a term given to a city in the United States that follows certain practices that protect illegal aliens. The term generally applies to cities that do not allow municipal funds or resources to be used to cooperate with federal immigration laws. This most commonly occurs when cities do not allow police or municipal employees to inquire about one’s immigration status.

Thirty-eight cities in the U.S. have been recognized as sanctuary cities. However, many sources have identified over 200 city or county governments nationwide as practicing such policies. Thus far, no Tennessee city has been identified in these groups.

“The legislation is a preemptive measure to guard against adoption of any policy by cities in the state to provide a sanctuary for illegal aliens in Tennessee,” said Senator Beavers. “This would enable police to do their job and see that criminal aliens are not allowed to live invisibly among our communities in violation of our laws.”

Issues in Brief

DUI / ignition interlock -- The Judiciary Committee approved legislation that would require ignition interlock devices to be installed on motor vehicles driven by DUI offenders with alcohol concentration levels exceeding .20, or for repeat offenders. The bill requires the Department of Safety to create an interlock indigency fund for offenders who cannot afford the installation of the interlock equipment by adding a $50 alcohol and drug addiction treatment fee for DUI offenders. Senator Mae Beavers (R-Mt. Juliet) said, “We have research from the Highway Safety Administration that shows that ignition interlock devices are one of the most effective ways to keep drunk drivers from continuing to drive intoxicated. Unfortunately, they’re significantly underused across the state. Passage of legislation to require use of these devices will greatly help in our efforts to get drunk drivers off our roads.”

DUI / education – The Senate Judiciary Committee approved a bill that gives judges the option to order DUI offenders to attend victim impact panel programs. The bill authorizes the court to assess a fee of no less than $25, but no more than $50, to offset the cost of participation.

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