At Panel, GOP Candidates Say They'd Require Tennessee Police To Work With Immigration Authorities

May 30, 2017

The Republican candidates for governor are saying they'd compel cities in Tennessee to enforce immigration laws if elected.

That comes amid a national debate over whether being picked up for minor offenses should also carry the risk of deportation.

No city in Tennessee has declared itself to be a "sanctuary" for immigrants facing deportation. But police also aren't required to hold people on misdemeanors until Immigration and Customs Enforcement can take them into custody.

Franklin businessman Bill Lee said there should be penalties for not cooperating.

"If I were the governor, I would do everything in my power — including funding loss and anything in my power — to stop sanctuary cities from being in our state of Tennessee."

That thinking was shared by the three other Republicans who spoke at a GOP dinner last week in Rutherford County.

Knoxville businessman Randy Boyd argued sanctuary cities aren't legally permissible. Representative Diane Black added that she plans to introduce legislation in Congress to strip all federal funding from cities that don't cooperate with Immigration.

And Clarksville Senator Mark Green said cities have a moral obligation to report undocumented immigrants to federal investigators.

"Cities want to know when there's a threat — from the federal government, when they hear it, from Homeland Security, at the state," he said. "Well, that should work both ways."

Voting for governor is still more than a year away. But the early rhetoric from the Republicans suggests cities would face more pressure to work with federal authorities if any of them are elected.

MORE: Hear the candidates responses at the Rutherford County Republican Party's Reagan Day Dinner.