Tennessee lawmakers are pushing for a bill to prohibit cities from creating its own municipal identification cards that would allow undocumented immigrants to access certain programs.
There has been pushback from immigrants rights groups saying it is "mean-spirited."
The bill stated that an official or any political subdivision of the state shall not accept matricula consular cards (ID's issued by the Mexican government through its consulate offices) or other form of documents not sanctioned by the general assembly as a form of identification.
Senator Mark Green is one of the sponsors, and said that it will help protect taxpayers.
"With a municipal card, you can access certain services from the government," said Green. "The Tennessee taxpayer who works hard and pay their taxes don't want to see those taxes pay for the benefits for people who broke the law."
A municipal card, issued by the city, instead of state or federal government, can provide access to services including the library, bank, transportation or parking to undocumented immigrants and the homeless.
Lisa Sherman-Nikolas of the Tennessee Immigration & Refugee Rights Coalition describes the bill as extreme.
"It would not only harm many immigrants who live in Tennessee but also Tennessee residents who don't have access to drivers license or US passports.It's aimed at harming immigrant communities but it's also going to be an international embarrassment because Tennessee is number one in foreign direct investments and Mexico is our second largest trade partner," said Sherman-Nikolas.
TIRRC has asked residents to reach out to legislators about their concerns.
In the push, TIRRC said, "it will create significant barriers for Tennessee citizens and residents to interact with their government, waste local law enforcement resources and undermine public safety, and further marginalize already vulnerable Tennesseans."
Sherman-Nikolas said Metro police are trained to recognize consular cards, commonly used by undocumented immigrants since it's issued in their home country, as a form of identification when interacting with residents in Nashville. She is worried that the bill would only
Green said one of the reasons for focusing on matricula cards is the worry about fake copies, but immigrant advocates say it is secure.
Green said the amendments to the bill would line with the Tennessee Code that prohibits matricula cards from being used for driver license applications or obtain a state photo ID for purposes of voting.
Another amendment stated it would not apply to student enrollment.
The bill was moved to the House State Government Committee to be discussed again next week.
To learn more about matricula cards, click on this link.