published Wednesday, June 30th, 2010

Bredesen says he didn’t think immigration bill was necessary

NASHVILLE — Gov. Phil Bredesen said Tuesday he signed a bill requiring local jailers to try and determine the immigration status of prisoners in part to keep the issue from “throwing gasoline on the fire” in this year’s political campaigns.

But the governor, a Democrat who is barred by law from seeking a third term, also said that while he doesn’t like how the bill is being used “symbolically,” he views its requirements as not unreasonable in light of similar local-federal partnerships already under way in the state’s four biggest counties.

“I guess you could do it (veto) as a symbolic act, but if you do so you’re just throwing it out, you’re throwing gasoline on the fire, and now there’ll be a whole bunch of political campaigns this fall about ‘we’re going to toughen up this kind of thing,’” Gov. Bredesen told reporters. “In the end, I didn’t think what it did was unreasonable. Symbolically, I didn’t like it. I didn’t think it was necessary.”

He said, however, that “there’s nothing in that bill that sheriffs can’t do today if they want to.”

But immigrant advocates disagree, noting the bill mandates jailers seek to determine the citizenship status of arrestees. The information would be forwarded to federal Immigration and Customs Enforcement officials if the arrestee is in the U.S. illegally or his or her status cannot be verified.

“We are disappointed that Gov. Bredesen declined to show leadership on this incredibly important issue,” said Stephen Fotopulos, executive director of the Tennessee Immigrant and Refugee Rights Coalition, adding the state is “left with a terrible piece of legislation that burdens local governments and fails to make our communities safer.”

Earlier, this week, Gov. Bredesen, whom advocates urged to veto the bill, acknowledged struggling with whether to sign or veto the measure, pushed by Republicans.

On Tuesday, he recalled living in England during the 1960s, noting that “if I’d been arrested for something in England, I think it would have been reasonable for a police office to look at me and say, ‘You know if you’re not English, I’d like to see your passport.”

Gov. Bredesen said, “I just think we’ve got, as a state, to get beyond using this whole immigration issue and English-only issues, which I think have nothing to do with immigration. .... We’ve got to get beyond making political footballs out of that unless we want to really damage our economic future.”

During this year’s legislative session, lawmakers introduced a flood of immigration-related legislation. When Republican lawmakers pushed through a resolution praising Arizona for its tough new law requiring local police to enforce federal immigration requirements, he called it “meaningless.”

But if the governor thinks his signing of the bill will throw a wet blanket on the illegal immigrant debate, he has another thing coming.

“Gov. Bredesen shouldn’t have even considered vetoing the bill,” said Rachel Taylor, spokeswoman for Lt. Gov. Ron Ramsey, a Republican gubernatorial candidate. She said voters “can count on Lt. Governor Ramsey passing a law like Arizona’s when he is elected.”

U.S. Rep. Zach Wamp, R-Tenn., another GOP gubernatorial hopeful, in a statement called the law, which takes effect Jan. 1, a “good first step, but we need to do more ... If the federal government won’t enforce the law, then as governor, I will.”

Another GOP candidate, Knoxville Mayor Bill Haslam, said “states must step up and address the issue of illegal immigration, because it’s clear the federal government has failed to do its part. ... As governor, I will enforce the laws on the books and will cut off the supply of jobs going to illegal immigrants.”

An effort Tuesday evening to contact by e-mail a spokesman for Democratic gubernatorial candidate Mike McWherter was unsuccessful.

When Gov. Bredesen criticized lawmakers’ focus on the Arizona resolution, Mr. McWherter was quoted as saying, “I really think the immigration issue is a federal issue, and what we need is a much better federal policy to protect our borders. It’s got to be solved on a federal level.”

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Article: Bill would require jailers to check immigration status

about Andy Sher...

Andy Sher is a Nashville-based staff writer covering Tennessee state government and politics for the Times Free Press. A Washington correspondent from 1999-2005 for the Times Free Press, Andy previously headed up state Capitol coverage for The Chattanooga Times, worked as a state Capitol reporter for The Nashville Banner and was a contributor to The Tennessee Journal, among other publications. Andy worked for 17 years at The Chattanooga Times covering police, health care, county government, ...

Comments do not represent the opinions of the Chattanooga Times Free Press, nor does it review every comment. Profanities, slurs and libelous remarks are prohibited. For more information you can view our Terms & Conditions and/or Ethics policy.
rolando said...

I don't particularly care what pro-illegal alien groups think about much of anything. It would not surprise me to find half of them are illegals or have relatives who are illegals.

Anybody read the comments on the last thread on this subject? And how many tax dollars go to waste on these Escalade-driving criminals at the expense of OUR children?

I say the H*ll with the illegals. Let 'em starve, live in a shack, speak Spanish only, stay illiterate, or least until they go back to Mexico and wait their turn to legally enter.

Charity begins at home, not in Mexico.

June 30, 2010 at 7:42 a.m.
Wilder said...

It seems that the Chattanooga Times has taken a position on this issue. I think my subscription to their newspaper just got canceled. Looks like the Noticias Libres may be their plan for the future.

June 30, 2010 at 8:38 a.m.
SavartiTN said...

Can't believe that I am saying this but I TOTALLY agree with rolando on this. What in the heck is wrong with letting local jailers check immigration status? They do this in all of the other countries.

I guess this worries local construction companies, the chicken plants, the mushroom company, people with cheap gardeners, and pool boys. What! Just WHAT is the problem with this bill?

June 30, 2010 at 11:16 a.m.
nurseforjustice said...

There is no problem with this bill. It just makes common sense and I am proud that Bredeson used his head in making this decision. And I am in agreement with Wamp that said there is still more to do. Of course McWherter would not be able to be reached for a comment.

June 30, 2010 at 12:49 p.m.
Macallanlover said...

I continue to be amazed about the opposition to laws curtailing the immigration of illegals in this country. Often I find people should use common sense approaches to national problems by treating them as they would run their own home life.

If someone entered your house illegally, would you bid them stay? Offer them free food forever? Promise to educate their children out of your budget? Pay for their medical needs, and those of their family that came with them? Tell them you would adopt any children born while living in your home and make them family members (citizens)? All without charging them (taxes) for the expenses you incur? I think not. But that is exactly what some propose by ignoring the rapidly escalating problem. Eventually this magnanimous attitude will sink this nation, just as it would ruin your family's future.

Those who favor such a lenient treatment are the same who would look at their mounting family debt and decide to spend more rather than cutting spending or finding ways to increase their income. Really? You believe the pain of cutting back is wrong and would borrow more? Glad I am not your child.

June 30, 2010 at 1:29 p.m.
WhiteKnight007 said...

I really, really dislike Phil. I think he's a shame to the democratic party. Well, to tennessee. Well, ok, period. I dont think he knows what being a demo or a republican either one stands for. Hes just bad. This is another example.

Look how people keep saying they want to be American, different from europe. Oh europe is bad, filthy socialists. Mind you most of them are our allies, ou best chums. People want to say "Oh but its differnt over here/over there" simply when it suits them. I get tied of the wisy washy back and forth.

You guys keep bouncing back and forth between wanting freedom, and a police state type government that locks down on everything. Your just sowing the breeding grounds for racism and class warfare to grow into bigger problems.

These laws are being done by the wrong people for the wrong reasons. It's largely about greed and racism, and paranoia.

A: Stop criminals from other countries from entering the US illegally

B: Properly handle them when we catch them.

C:It's up to employeers to make sure their employees in communications jobs have GOOD english skills, not good enough, because good enough, isnt. And that just pisses people off. But laws against language is wrong.

D:Stop hammering people just because someone else is another race, speaks another language, listens to another kind of music, is an immigrant, whatever. These laws will promote discrimination the way they are being made and will be abused. This is AMERICA. Dont turn it into Hitlers wet dream. Remeber, unless your native or black, your people were immigrants at some point too. Stop making laws to enforce discrimination and racism.

June 30, 2010 at 5:57 p.m.
Macallanlover said...

Typical WhiteKnight, Leftists are unable to handle real issues so they deflect the discussion and hide behind charges of racism and Facism. No one cares what color, or nationality the illegals are, they are ILLEGAL. What part of not enforcing the laws don't you get? What part of math escapes you? You do realize such foolishness will sink this country don't you. Continuation will bankrupt this country. If it is a Swede, or Canadian, or Italian, it still must be stopped. Where do you see race, language, or nationality discussed in all this?

It has nothing to do with the silliness you espoused. When do you think we should enforce the laws? And which ones? If you don't like the law, change it, otherwise obey it. You know when it becomes an issue you are exposed because your thoughts are illogical, and an overwhelming majority of Americans disagree with your stance. And it will become a huge factor in this fall's elections.

Leftists and Liberals want to selectively apply some laws strictly while ignoring others. Who do they think they are? They cannot stand up and debate issues on facts. This is about our border security, our financial health, and our respect for rules. You either want a lawless society or one where a select group determines how things are done. Be a man/woman and stand up for this country and stop the name calling for those who love this country and will fight to maintain it for our children. Injecting race into a debate about this is a shallow attempt to avoid confronting the issue. Grow up.

June 30, 2010 at 6:44 p.m.
Wilder said...

From the perspective of the average middle class American citizen, you can draw a parallel between the open Mexican border and the BP oil well that's pumping oil into the Gulf. The longer they remain unchecked, the greater the cost and damage.

From the perspective of the Democratic stragegist, it is like buying futures on the futures market. The number of babies born to illegal aliens in this country is approaching 1 million annually. Those born by November of 1994 will be elgible to vote in the 2012 elections, with the numbers growing exponentially with each year that passes. So, the more the merrier.

From the perspective of the business driven Republicans(the ones with the money/power), its all about short term gains. Never mind that we are headed towards a one party country, we will worry about that later, right now, there is money to be made.

June 30, 2010 at 7:53 p.m.
honesty26 said...

Everyone needs to come to treams and face the facts and stop blaming people for who falt it is. Yeah sure there is a problem with illegals, but they are all not to blame on whats going on in this country. Everyone talking about jobs and say that all the "Illegals" are taking are jobs but face the FACT that not blacks nor white want the jobs they offer example working in fields in the hot summer picking tomatos or lettuce where are the people who want that job oh i forgot everyone wants to work sitting in a office in the AC.They want good jobs that pay good, and if you realize that almost all the black people are out on streets selling drugs while the "Government" pays there rent and living on government housing now you tell me when does the government pay for a Illegal housing???, and the white peole live of unemployment checks and yeah there are jobs out there but they dont want to work. Some blacks and white lieing in order to get foodstamps,and medicad in order to live cuz all the illegal are stealing the "JOBS" Well i dont understand if they are in such need why they driving there cars with rims and all pimped out???Oh and the Government stealing all the money in order to support there habits and good life the more they have the more there GREEDY;and yes there is a problem with the immgration law but what everyone dont understand is that its all about money at the borders between Mexico and USA ,everyone has a part of whats going on so stop fingre poing and face the fact with are eyes one wide and face the truth; Yes there is a problem and solving isnt about blaming just one group its about how are border patrol wont give up fighting just for money.

June 30, 2010 at 9:32 p.m.
rolando said...

savarti, I never thought you would ever surprise me by anything you said anymore...but you surprised me with that one. Hope you had a GREAT day and will have an even GREATER holiday.

[Speaking of the Fourth, I wonder if its OK for our kids to wear their US Flag T-Shirts to school in celebration?]

June 30, 2010 at 10:08 p.m.
Musicman375 said...

honesty26, the unemployment rate is high enough to supply plenty of desperate people with the jobs they need. If they won't help themselves, so be it. Prisoners can do the work.

June 30, 2010 at 10:52 p.m.
ann said...

i think it is stupid to even debate this imergration thing ,they broke our laws send them back and put a stiff fine on them like you do the citizens of this country when they break the laws

June 30, 2010 at 11:55 p.m.
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