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Mayor Cooper rescinds former Mayor Briley's immigration executive order, creates task force

Posted: 5:42 PM, Oct 14, 2019
Updated: 2019-10-14 23:58:30-04
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NASHVILLE, Tenn. (WTVF) — Mayor John Cooper announced he would rescind former Mayor Briley's controversial executive order on immigration.

"The order, as written, provides insufficient clarity for either immigrant families as well as Metropolitan Government employees, as many have noted, including immigration advocacy groups," said Cooper in a statement.

Briley's order called on Tennessee lawmakers to repeal a controversial law banning sanctuary cities. He said he wanted the Metro Director of Law to investigate the legality of HB2315 – the state’s law that prohibits cities and counties from adopting policies that would protect undocumented immigrants from federal agents. The bill became law in 2018 without then-Governor Bill Haslam’s signature .

The order and Briley came under fire for a few reasons - one of them being that Briley was running for re-election at the time. Many, including House Speaker Cameron Sexton (R-Crossville), called it a political ploy.

Mayor Cooper's statement went on to explain why he is taking action.

“I am taking action on Executive Order No. 11 this week because the State of Tennessee has given Metro Government an extension to address this issue by October 18th or risk losing four grants totaling over $1.1 million."

He went one step further, creating a task force which will provide recommendations within the next 60 days. It will include the following people:

  • Shanna Hughey, ThinkTN, Founder and President (CHAIR)
  • Juliana Ospina Cano, Executive Director Conexion Americas
  • Hank Clay, MNPS Chief of Staff
  • Ana Escobar, General Sessions Judge
  • Mike Hagar, MNPD Deputy Chief
  • Daron Hall, Davidson County Sheriff
  • Mary Kathryn Harcombe, TIRRC Legal Director
  • Victor S. (Torry) Johnson III, Former District Attorney General of Metropolitan Nashville and Davidson County
  • Sandra Sepulveda, Metro Councilwoman, District 30
  • Zulfat Suara, Metro Councilwoman At-Large

Mayor John Cooper's full statement:

“I am rescinding Mayor Briley’s Executive Order No. 11. The order, as written, provides insufficient clarity for either immigrant families as well as Metropolitan Government employees, as many have noted, including immigration advocacy groups.

“I am taking action on Executive Order No. 11 this week because the State of Tennessee has given Metro Government an extension to address this issue by October 18th or risk losing four grants totaling over $1.1 million.

“We will be convening a task force of leaders from across the community and Metro Government to ensure my administration is aware of requests made by federal Immigration and Customs Enforcement agents and knows how to respond appropriately. The task force will be responsible for making recommendations for how Metro employees should interact with federal immigration authorities in a manner that: (1) respects the very separate roles of federal, state, and local governments, (2) complies with state and federal law, and (3) protects the safety and well-being of everyone in our immigrant communities.

“Recent activities by ICE in our city – including at a Metro school – demonstrate that neither city agencies nor residents have received sufficient guidance on how to report or respond to requests for assistance from federal agencies like ICE. This task force is intended to address that issue from the ground up, with guidance crafted by this diverse group of Nashville’s leading voices on immigration and local law enforcement policy.

“I have said frequently that I want Nashville to be a city for everyone, and that certainly includes immigrants. Our city benefits greatly from the many contributions of our immigrant neighbors. I am deeply aware that our success as a city depends on everyone both feeling safe to participate and having access to opportunities. To get there, we need to make sure that all Nashvillians feel safe when interacting with our city agencies.

“It is up to the federal government to both make and enforce our immigration laws. It is my job to make sure that our city runs well. Our city agencies have limited resources and cannot be expected to do the work of the federal government.

“The following task force will provide recommendations within the next 60 days:

Shanna Hughey, ThinkTN, Founder and President (CHAIR)

Juliana Ospina Cano, Executive Director Conexion Americas

Hank Clay, MNPS Chief of Staff

Ana Escobar, General Sessions Judge

Mike Hagar, MNPD Deputy Chief

Daron Hall, Davidson County Sheriff

Mary Kathryn Harcombe, TIRRC Legal Director

Victor S. (Torry) Johnson III, Former District Attorney General of Metropolitan Nashville and Davidson County

Sandra Sepulveda, Metro Councilwoman, District 30

Zulfat Suara, Metro Councilwoman At-Large