Sponsors Now Say They'll Push Back Vote On Nashville Immigration Ordinance

Jun 27, 2017

  Update, June 28:

The sponsors of a proposal to limit Davidson County's cooperation with federal immigration authorities now say they won't push for a final vote on it next week.

That comes after the plan was criticized by Nashville Mayor Megan Barry, Republican state lawmakers and Sheriff Daron Hall.

The Tennessean reports that Councilmen Bob Mendes and Colby Sledge announced the decision yesterday afternoon to their colleagues. They plan to hold a press conference this afternoon to discuss how they'll move forward.

Original post

A proposal to limit Davidson County's cooperation with federal immigration authorities still appears to be heading for a final vote next week, despite a new legal opinion that says the limits may never be enforceable.

Councilman Bob Mendes, one of the measure's chief sponsors, says he does not intend to back away from plans for a third and final vote on the proposed ordinance on July 6. It would allow the Davidson County Sheriff's Office to cooperate with Immigration and Customs Enforcement in deportation cases only if authorities can produce a signed warrant.

Mendes says he pursued the ordinance because he believes immigrants in Nashville have begun avoiding contact with police and health care workers out of fear it could lead to deportation.

"You know, me and my, I think, 14 co-sponsors pursued this legislation because there's a part of the Nashville community that is crying out."

The nine-page opinion from Metro's legal department is the latest of several recent blows the proposed ordinance has taken. Sheriff Daron Hall has already said any attempt to limit his authority over the jail and law enforcement matters is illegal. He says he doesn't answer to the Council and will fight the ordinance if it passes.

Meanwhile, Republican state lawmakers also say they're opposed to the proposal, citing a law they approved in 2009 banning so-called "sanctuary cities."

And even Nashville Mayor Megan Barry, a Democrat, is urging the Metro Council to reconsider.

Mendes says he hears them.

"I understand this opinion is out and I read the mayor's statement a few minutes ago, and I will do as she asked and reconsider. But as for now, it's on the agenda for July 6."

Mendes says he doesn't agree with Metro Legal's analysis, and he says claims that the proposal violates state or federal law is a "mischaracterization." He says he'll ask the Metro Council's attorney to weigh in before making a final decision on whether to hold a final vote.

Mendes adds that he does not relish a legal confrontation with Hall or other opponents of the ordinance. But under the Metro Council's rules, he has few choices available. Proposed ordinances can't be amended on their third readings, under the Metro Council's rules, which means the only options supporters have at this point is to withdraw it or put it to a vote.