NASHVILLE, Tenn. - A bill to block the passage of "Sanctuary Policies" passed through a subcommittee in legislature.
The bill would punish local governments with certain sanctuary policies by denying them state money.
That denial would happen if the government adopted policies limiting the cooperation with federal immigration agents, allowing the legal presence of illegal immigrants in Tennessee or if it prevents law enforcement from inquiring about any person's citizenship status.
The bill's sponsor, state Representative Jay Reedy, said this is in response to Nashville's push to become a sanctuary-like city in 2017.
Also, Rep. Reedy cited a recent ICE raids of the Southern Provisions meat packing plant which resulted in the arrest of 50 or more illegal immigrants.
Still, Reedy said he doesn't have a problem will illegal immigrants who are here to work, but don't commit crimes. He's worried about people who are guilty of felonies.
"I have a problem with those that murder, that rape, that are drug deals, that are in our country illegally number one, but they've got that felon conviction. We don't need them living in our towns," Reedy said.
However, opponents and some lawmakers are skeptical of the bill. They believe it may go to far.
"The definition of sanctuary city is written so broadly, it actually undermines the judgment of local law enforcement," said Steven Fotopoulos, who spoke out against the bill in comittee. "Specifically prohibits local sheriff and police from imposing any conditions on obeying the directions of an immigration official."
The bill passed through the Finance, Ways & Means Subcommittee, but was rolled to the last day of the calendar in the full committee.