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Sanctuary cities bill to become Tennessee law despite governor’s reservations

Tennessee Gov. Bill Haslam

NASHVILLE, Tenn. — Republican Gov. Bill Haslam says he’s allowing legislation billed as a push against sanctuary cities to become law without his signature, saying it has stirred up irrational fear on both sides.

Haslam told reporters Monday that Tennessee has no sanctuary cities and state law prohibits them. He said it’s also not a mass deportation bill. Haslam said the best thing to do is move on.

The legislation bans local governments from having “sanctuary” policies and threatens to withhold future state economic and community development money from those not complying.

Local governments would have to comply with federal immigration detainers of people identified as in the country illegally.

Haslam said police departments couldn’t adopt policies not to ask about immigration status in routine encounters, but wouldn’t be required to ask.

The Shelby County Sheriff’s Office will be guided by the County Attorney’s Office regarding changes required by the new law in 2019, sheriff’s spokesman Earle Farrell said.

Farrell said the jail asks each inmate about country of origin and citizenship status, pursuant to the law in effect now, but does not detain anyone based on citizenship status on behalf of ICE.

In April, a Spanish-language journalist who was arrested during a protest outside 201 Poplar was turned over to ICE authorities for possible deportation after his initial charges were dismissed.

Sheriff’s Office spokesman Earle Farrell said at the time that Manuel Duran had not been held by authorities on behalf of ICE.

“Manuel Duran was taken into custody by ICE agents shortly after release from Shelby County Jail. He would have been released Earlier but he refused to sign bond. He was not being held on an ICE Hold.”