NASHVILLE, Tenn. - At odds with the Davidson County Sheriff, immigrant organizations prepared for a potentially historic vote on immigration enforcement ordinance.
The ordinance called for cooperation with federal law, state law, and court orders including federal criminal warrants, but would end other voluntary aid from local law enforcement in regards to immigration enforcement.
Councilman at-large Bob Mendes said this would make relations between undocumented immigrants and law enforcement better.
"Twelve percent of the citizens in Davidson County are foreign born. Of that group, many are citizens and many are not," Mendes said. "There's evidence that there's more fear in the community than there should be."
Mendes is the primary sponsor of the bill, as well as a secondary bill that would end a 21-year contract with U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement to house some detainees at Davidson County Sheriff's Office facilities.
"This bill is designed to provide a message to the entire community that while Metro will do everything it's required to do under Federal and State law on immigration. Beyond that, we're going to let the Federals and pros handle immigration," Mendes said.
Monday morning, preparations were underway at Tennessee Immigrant & Refugee Rights Coalition for an expected 300 people to show up Tuesday at Metro City Council. Dulce Castro hopes efforts by TIRRC will bring a large crowd to the meeting, where a vote is expected on the ordinances. The 17-year-old was cutting out fliers to hand out to local businesses in support of the cause.
Castro, a daughter of undocumented immigrants, has spent the past 10 years in country and plans to be the first in her family to go to college. Right now, Castro says her family wouldn't call police for fear of being deported.
"They have a fear of being stopped by police just because they think they might get deported," Castro said. "There is a chance that they might get deported just for not having a license or just because of a problem in the car like the lights are not working."
One of the goals of the ordinance is to make undocumented immigrants feel safe enough to work with local law enforcement.
Even though Davidson County Sheriff Daron Hall called it a "sanctuary city-type" ordinance, Mendes said the bill avoids classifying Nashville as a sanctuary city because it does not instruct metro to ignore federal or state law in regards to immigration.