Gov. Bill Haslam says he isn’t swayed by the U.S. Supreme Court’s ruling that it’s OK for local law enforcement to ask people to prove their citizenship during routine police stops.
Haslam has stood in the way of legislative attempts to bring an Arizona-style immigration law to Tennessee and instead ushered in other laws to discourage undocumented workers from settling in the Volunteer State.
“My concern with an Arizona-type law has always been the position it puts local law enforcement in, of having to make those kind of judgements,” Haslam told reporters Tuesday in Nashville.
Instead, he prefers policing immigrants by trying to stop them from finding work or by denying them most public benefits.
In a mixed ruling this week, the nation’s highest court struck down three of four aspects of the controversial 2010 Arizona immigration law. But the court unanimously upheld a key provision, which allows state and local law enforcement to check the immigration status of anyone they stop or arrest if there is reasonable suspicion he or she is an illegal immigrant.
While the court confirmed the legality of local governments taking on immigration enforcement, it warned that the Arizona law could find itself in other legal hot water for other constitutional challenges. Critics say that could include a violation of civil liberties, such as using racial profiling.
Rep. Joe Carr, R-Lascassas, led the charge to put a similar provision into Tennessee law in 2011 and said he’d like to consider taking another stab at it in 2013.
Carr was stonewalled by the Haslam administration when he tried, though, and instead focused on other bills focused on making Tennessee unfriendly to undocumented immigrants.
One proposal requires businesses and governments to check their employees’ citizenship status either by running their workers’ identity through the federal E-Verify system or by maintaining workers’ hiring records, such as a copy of their drivers’ license. Another measure, known as the SAVE Act, requires people who apply for most public aid to prove their citizenship. Both measures are now law.