GOP’s Illegal Immigration Bills Filed Separately

State lawmakers announced Wednesday they’ll push several different proposals aimed at curbing illegal immigration. That’s instead of packaging the measures together as a single unified or “omnibus” bill – a move many had suggested, including Governor Bill Haslam.

Sponsors say the piecemeal approach will let legislators take their time and study each of three proposals in depth.

Senator Bill Ketron, R-Murfreesboro, is carrying an Arizona-style measure that would have local and state police check the legal status of suspected undocumented immigrants during stops for traffic violations, and hand over those deemed unlawful to Immigrations and Customs Enforcement.

Another proposal, by Senator Jim Tracy, R-Shelbyville, would require all employers to check the immigration status of new hires through the federal E-Verify system.

And Senator Jack Johnson, R-Franklin, has a bill to let state agencies check for lawful status and thereby keep illegal immigrants from receiving state benefits.

The three bills all share the same House sponsor: Representative Joe Carr, R-Lascassas.

“What we believe we have is model legislation for the other states in the country; we feel that strongly about it,” Carr said.

Not everyone was so upbeat Wednesday; Hedy Weinberg, who runs Tennessee’s chapter of the American Civil Liberties Union, said Ketron’s Arizona-style measure could get Tennessee sued. She says it invites racial profiling because police will consider suspects’ skin color and accent when judging who may be here illegally.

“It becomes a ‘papers, please’ law because it requires everyone to carry a federal or state-issued ID in order to prove that they are here legally,” Weinberg said. “There’s a presumption that you are here illegally if you don’t have those documents on you.”

For his part, Ketron argued profiling is “not acceptable” and is prohibited under the Arizona law, which is currently facing a federal challenge. The sponsors wouldn’t say exactly how Ketron’s bill differs from Arizona’s.

Ketron had been looking to push another proposal to require drivers’ license tests be in English only, with a few exemptions, but the fate of that bill is now uncertain.

Johnson’s measure to keep illegal immigrants off state benefits does contain a key exception, he noted, in letting children attend public school here no matter their immigration status. “That is dictated by federal law,” Johnson said. “You shall not deny a free public education to a child, regardless of their legality in the country.”

As to the bill requiring employers make sure of new hires’ legality, Tracy says he’s confident it won’t burden small business in Tennessee; the E-Verify system doesn’t cost them anything and is relatively quick, he said. A business would face fines for violating Tracy’s rule the first two times, and lose its license the third.

When asked, Tracy said there’s no specific gauge by which he’d judge his legislation’s efficacy at curbing illegal employment, saying “I just think it’s going to work.”

Carr, however, cited decreases in crime in states like Missourri and South Carolina as evidence of “demagnetization” — that is, a state becoming less welcoming to undocumented immigrants.

Tennessee must act in kind, said Carr.

Sen. Johnson said the push to crack down on employers who hire illegal immigrants is motivated at least in part by the belief that they may be snatching up scarce jobs from legal residents who are capable and willing to work.

“Tennessee has an unemployment rate that is bordering on 10 percent,” said Johnson. “We have people that need the jobs that are out there. And if these jobs are being taken by folks that are in the country illegally, we wish them no ill will, but we would rather those jobs be had by lawful Tennesseans.”

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  • Brittanicus

    IT’S EITHER MILLIONS WE SPEND NOW OR A HUNDRED BILLION DOLLARS PLUS LATER?

    Just like the Great Land Rush of the 19th century, hundreds of thousands even millions of illegal aliens will be fleeing different States enacting policing laws. Idaho, Florida Utah, Missouri, Texas, North Carolina, Maryland, Tennessee, Minnesota and of course the great State of Arizona, who is battling for survival in the biased-oriented court system.,In swarms they will be loading their trucks, packing their families and leaving less hospitable locations. They are heading they think to other States with easy welfare pickings, with brought and sold legislators where the laws are not enforced. Even the cash strapped, Sanctuary State of California has numerous counties ready to embark with E-Verify, as a mandatory verification warning to foreign nationals you better not apply for a job here, as the business owner is unlikely to take the risk of losing his business license. Other States are introducing laws including the federal 287 (g) law to train local police in arrest and detain suspicious individuals on hold for ICE agents.

    Secure Communities a program that expedites fingerprints gathered by local law enforcement agencies to the FBI and then through a federal (ICE) immigration database to identify undocumented immigrants. Over a thousand jurisdictions in 40 States and others ready to participate. All these enforcement programs cost millions of dollars, but it touches nowhere near the hundreds of billions of dollars extracted from your taxes to support illegal aliens. The border remains frighteningly open and their is no program to guarantee that foreign airline passengers will leave after their entry visa expires? American immigration laws have been mocked since the 1986 amnesty law by both the US Government and the businesses that hire discount labor. If their was a real effort by any administration to halt the illegal alien invasion, any illegal invader would be facing a felony, not a stupid minor infraction.

    I joined the Tea PARTY as more and more taxes are being taken, to support the education, health care and other social welfare programs in pandering to the illegal immigrants. I am also an activist of the million plus membership of NumbersUSA pro-sovereignty organization, that allows free faxes to your resident State Representative or even the leadership in Washington. You can also contact your politicians through the Switchboard in DC at 202-224-3121. Their is a Pdf file “Illegal Aliens and American Medicine.”that every American should assimilate. It will probably give you heartburn and the billions of dollars we are paying to support health care for illegal aliens, that should be going in the pensions of old American warriors, OUR senior citizens, OUR homeless, Our blind, our sick, handicapped and those citizens living in poverty. This is just part of the deception and collusion of our legislators, who have been corrupted by special interests. We should bring our military home from Afghanistan, Iraq and other support bases, and place them along the US border, Canadian border fully armed with orders to fire.

    Illegal immigrant states like Texas New York State and Illinois’s, specially in California and Nevada, has no real ID verification where there was massive voter fraud through absentee ballots use; I truly believe.

  • http://I wilma zeigler

    I am amazed at the opposition to showing ID. I am 68 years old and as long as I have had a drivers license I have been prepared to show it any time I needed to prove who I was. I often show it when I have made a credit card purchase(I don’t sign my cards) whether asked or not, just to prove no one else is using my card. I consider it something I do for my own protection and safety, not a negative at all.

  • wilma zeigler

    I further feel that to show your photo ID when voting assures that you get YOUR vote and someone else does not. again a positive not a negative.

  • Judy “Jaye” Lieungh

    It’s time to take back OUR country. OUR country means, legal Americans, who respect the laws of America. Remove the people from America who don’t. (It’s been done twice before in this country). Teddy wouldn’t let this “stuff” happen.

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