Posted on April 16, 2024

Tennessee Governor Signs Bill Requiring Local Officers to Aid US Immigration Authorities

Jonathan Mattise, Associated Press, April 12, 2024

Tennessee Gov. Bill Lee has signed a bill that would require law enforcement agencies to communicate with federal immigration authorities if they discover people are in the the country illegally, and would broadly mandate cooperation in the process of identifying, detaining and deporting them.

The Republican signed the measure Thursday, and it takes effect July 1. While the bill’s proponents have argued that Tennessee law enforcement agencies should assist more in immigration enforcement, immigrant advocates have warned that the bill is broad and confusing and could embolden rogue officers to target immigrant families.


Tennessee has aligned with other Republican-led states that have also sought to deploy their authorities into more immigration tasks as the presidential election approaches, arguing that President Joe Biden has shirked his duties to enforce federal immigration law.


But the Tennessee Immigrant and Refugee Rights Coalition said the law is written broadly and could give more authority than Taylor has claimed. The group criticized Lee’s decision to sign the bill.

“He could have listened to the warnings from police chiefs, educators, domestic violence victims’ advocates and legal experts and stopped this misguided bill from becoming law,” said Lisa Sherman Luna, executive director of the coalition’s voter engagement arm. “Instead, he rubber-stamped the state legislature’s continued descent into authoritarianism and green-lit a law that could open the door for racial profiling, unlawful detention, and separated families.”