On the final day of the 2018 legislative session, my colleagues and I in the House took necessary steps to strengthen our border with passage of House Bill 2315.
This initiative — which I strongly support and urge Governor Haslam to sign — adds teeth to our existing immigration laws by holding any Tennessee city or local municipality that provides safe harbor to illegal immigrants accountable for their actions. Those who are found in noncompliance with House Bill 2315 would be ineligible to receive economic development grants from the state until they abandon policies that encourage illegal immigration.
Additionally, the measure encourages cooperation between local and federal law enforcement as they enforce federal immigration laws, jointly protecting Tennessee from those that violate these laws.
You may have heard some question the constitutionality of this legislation. Their argument is that it makes profiling permissible — that is simply not the case. Racial profiling is illegal and will remain so. House Bill 2315 simply empowers local law enforcement who detain individuals for criminal activity to cross-check federal databases to ensure they are here legally.
Our nation’s greatness is partly due to our strong history of immigration — including my father’s grandparents who immigrated from Italy. To protect this legacy and to allow it to continue, we must maintain control of our borders and know who comes and goes. Every state and city must pitch in to help our federal officials do their jobs.
I believe that House Bill 2315 taps into Tennessee’s volunteer spirit, doing our part in keeping our borders secure. That’s just common sense.