Gov. Bill Haslam will allow a proposal seeking to prohibit sanctuary cities in Tennessee to become law without his signature.
The measure would also require local law enforcement officials to comply with U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement requests to hold immigrants for purposes of deportation.
“I think the best thing for the state to do with this decision is to move on from it,” Haslam told reporters Monday morning.
He said he would allow the measure to become law without his signature.
Immediately after announcing his decision, critics — including the Tennessee Immigrant and Refugee Rights Coalition and some Nashville council members — blasted the governor.
Lt. Gov. Randy McNally, R-Oak Ridge, called the governor’s action a “wise decision.” House Speaker Beth Harwell, R-Nashville, the proposal will allow local, state and federal officials to work together to “keep our communities safe.”
The governor’s decision on the measure, which does not take effect until January 2019, could trigger boycotts and legal action. Critics of the bill have said both options are on the table.
Fabian Bedne, a Metro Nashville councilman, said on Twitter that he would begin working on looking at legal options.
Haslam’s decision comes despite objections from a number of organizations and individuals who said the legislation was constitutionally suspect and could lead to unintended consequences.
The measure was among the final bills to receive approval before the General Assembly adjourned on April 25.
One day after the bill’s approval, TIRRC encouraged Haslam to issue a veto.
Since then, the Shelby County Commission and the Nashville city council approved resolutions asking Haslam to veto the legislation, as others urged the governor through letter writing campaigns.
Others to encourage such action include the American Civil Liberties Union of Tennessee, the Southern Poverty Law Center, a dozen national civil rights organizations, several labor unions, Nashville Police Chief Steve Anderson, faith leaders, educators, domestic and sexual violence advocates, criminal procedure and immigration law experts and criminal defense attorneys.
In two separate rallies in recent weeks, thousands gathered outside the state Capitol calling for a veto.
By Joel Elbert for TENNESSEAN
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