A debate on immigration sparked by recent comments by presidential candidate Donald Trump is now heating up in Tennessee.
Senator Mae Beavers, a Republican from Mt. Juliet, said she supports Trump's idea to “call for a total and complete shutdown of Muslims entering the US.”
“It’s not being anti-religion,” said Sen. Beavers. “It’s not being Islamaphobic. It’s just about making sure we know who is coming into this country and that they aren’t terrorists.”
Sen. Beavers said many people in her district are concerned about another possible terrorist attack, and state legislators need to do what they can to put people at ease. She said Trump’s plan is the best way to keep the country safe.
Sen. Beavers added she believes the state should continue to fight to ban refugees from entering the state
“We have terrorists who have come in under the refugee program, and we need to find a way to check them,” said Sen. Beavers.
At the Islamic Center of Nashville, President Rashed Fakhruddin denounced Trump’s comments as hate speech.
“He’s just fanning the flames of hatred toward all minorities once again,” said Fakhruddin. “We really need to stand together against this type of hate speech and rhetoric.”
Fakhruddin said he had received support from other area faith leaders and members of the community. He said he believed most people in Middle Tennessee do not agree with Trump.
“We’re not a group to be feared,” said Fakhruddin. “We actually, we are all in the same boat. We want to make America the best nation.”
Chairman of the Tennessee Republican Party Ryan Haynes said in a statement:
“Donald Trump's comments have no place in the Republican Party or in American politics. As Americans we should embrace our unique heritage of welcoming immigrants. Demanding that our borders be secure or raising legitimate questions about our screening process is one thing, but a wholesale ban on a religious basis is just wrong. This isn't a conservative proposal; it’s an outlandish idea that goes against American exceptionalism. Donald Trump is running for the highest office in the United States. This comment doesn't reflect someone who is serious about that endeavor.”
Tennessee Democratic Party Chair Mary Mancini added:
“These Tennessee Republicans have pledged to support Donald Trump and they must be held accountable for that support. Their agreement with Trump’s disgraceful, inhuman and unconstitutional policies, whether tacit or stated, speaks volumes about just how out of touch they are with hardworking Tennesseans. Where is their concern for our Muslim brothers and sisters who work hard everyday and live peacefully in Tennessee?"