THE NEW SANCTUARY CITIES LAW IN TENNESSEE: WHAT IS IT, WHAT DOES IT DO, AND HOW COULD IT AFFECT YOU?

TENNESSEE has recently come into the national spotlight for its passage of House Bill 2315 (“HB 2315”), a new law that changes the nature of how municipal governments in Tennessee can control how local law enforcement agencies coordinate with federal immigration authorities. Although Governor Haslam refused to sign HB 2315, he also refused to veto it, thus allowing HB 2315 to become a law without his involvement.

But what is HB 2315, and how could it affect you? Two (2) major effects of HB 2315 are: (1) municipal governments cannot force local authorities to refuse to comply with federal immigration officials, including immigration detainers from U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (“ICE”); and (2) municipal governments that do prohibit local authorities from complying with federal immigration officials through a “sanctuary city” policy are ineligible to receive any state funding.

Immigration detainers are requests by ICE for local authorities to hold undocumented individuals who have been charged with a crime and who are already in jail for an additional 48 hours after they otherwise would have been released. From ICE’s perspective, immigration detainers allow ICE a window of time for federal authorities to detain individuals for immigration proceedings when they may otherwise not be able to apprehend such individuals before they are normally released. However, this perspective has been harshly criticized, with many arguing that such immigration detainers unlawfully or immorally commandeer state law enforcement officers for federal law enforcement purposes.

It is important to note that, under HB 2315, local authorities are not penalized if they refuse to comply with the immigration detainer and release the undocumented individual before ICE arrives to detain them. Rather, municipal governments cannot outright prohibit local law enforcement from coordinating with ICE or other federal immigration officials.

Regardless of what becomes of HB 2315, the new law is set to take effect on January 1, 2019. If you think that HB 2315 may affect you in a negative way, then it is more important than ever before that you consult with an Immigration Law attorney and determine what steps you can take to protect yourself from any possible adverse action from the U.S. Government.

ABOUT THE AUTHOR: Andrew Goldstein is currently a law clerk at Cole Law Group. He recently graduated from Belmont University College of Law and looks forward to joining CLG as an associate when he is admitted to the Tennessee Bar. Andrew will focus his practice in the areas of Immigration Law and Family Law. Cole Law Group clients will benefit from Andrew's passion for the law and dedication to serving them well.

Disclaimer: The information in this article is provided for general informational purposes only, and may not reflect the current law in your jurisdiction. No information contained in this article should be construed as legal advice from Cole Law Group, P.C. or the individual author, nor is it intended to be a substitute for legal counsel on any subject matter. No reader of this post should act or refrain from acting on the basis of any information included in, or accessible through, this post without seeking the appropriate legal or other professional advice on the particular facts and circumstances at issue from a lawyer licensed in the recipient’s state, country or other appropriate licensing jurisdiction.