published Friday, January 14th, 2011

Immigration a hot-button issue again

Immigration will be a hot-button issue — again — in upcoming state legislative sessions.

State legislators say they have to act against illegal immigration because the federal government won't.

"To me these bills are about frustration with the federal government and its ability to manage our borders," said Tennessee Sen. Andy Berke, D-Chattanooga. "This is a national security problem when people cross our borders illegally, and people are simply fed up with the federal government's response."

Tennessee and Georgia are among seven states likely this year to follow Arizona's lead and pass tough immigration laws, according to the National Immigration Forum.

The Arizona law makes it a state crime to be in the country without authorization and allows police to check the immigration status of people they stop or arrest.

"If the federal government is not going to enforce illegal immigration laws on border states -- I'm not the first one to say this, it's been quoted before -- then every state might as well consider themselves a border state," said state Rep. Jim Cobb, R-Spring City.

Cobb was among a group of Tennessee Republicans who traveled to Arizona last year to present Gov. Jan Brewer with a resolution commending the state for the law.

At least three immigration-related bills have been filed in Tennessee and two in Georgia. Several others, including Arizona-type bills, will be introduced shortly after legislators return to Nashville and Atlanta, some lawmakers said.

The new Georgia and Tennessee governors, Republicans Nathan Deal and Bill Haslam, have said they would sign an Arizona-type bill if it came before them, according to the National Immigration Forum.

However, outgoing Gov. Phil Bredesen this week cautioned his successor, Bill Haslam, and state legislators against spending time on issues such as immigration. He called such issues "distractions" to the core issues the state needs to focus on: economic development and education.


Immigration-related bills already filed in legislatures


• SB 0008: Would require all state and local governmental entities to verify that all employees hired after July 1, 2011, are not illegal aliens

• SB 0009: Would require public postsecondary institutions to verify that applicants are U.S. citizens or are international students with valid visas

• SB 0010: Would require that all written examinations for driver's license or intermediate driver's license be in English

Source: Tennessee General Assembly


• SB 3: The "Georgia Public Works and Contractor Protection Act" relates to public employers' verification of employee work eligibility using federal programs such as E-verify.

• HB 25: Clarifies college education is a state and local public benefit reserved for citizens and eligible aliens. Requires verification of eligibility through the federal SAVE program

Source: Georgia General Assembly


Arizona's law, however, has been challenged in court, and some lawmakers advise moving slowly.

"I'd be opposed right now to just going out and lockstep taking what Arizona is doing, because you got the federal court challenges that are in there," Georgia state Rep. Tom Dickson, R-Cohut-ta, said during a roundtable discussion last month with Chattanooga Times Free Press reporters.

"We need to be sure that what we are going to put in place is, A, going to be effective and B, it's not going to get us in court spending dollars that are needed to take care of our citizens trying to defend what we've done in immigration," he said.

Berke, who voted against the resolution commending Arizona, said he would consider any bill that comes before him, "but the provisions that have been shown to be unconstitutional in other places I cannot vote for ... here."

Groups in Tennessee and Georgia including the Georgia Farm Bureau, chambers of commerce and pro-immigrant organizations have expressed concern over passing measures similar to Arizona's controversial law.


As early as next week, Tennessee lawmakers may present three bills that deal with illegal immigration, said Rep. Joe Carr, R-Lascassas, who is leading the task force drafting immigration-related bills. They would:

• Mandate the use of the E-verify program in the hiring of public and private employees;

• Make state agencies verify the legal status of people applying for benefits using the federal program SAVE;

• Codify the federal no-trespassing law as a state statute.

Cobb said the legislation isn't perfect, but it's a good starting point.

"In many cases it will end up in court," he said. "If so many cases start to lose, when there's precedence continuously that looks like racial profiling is being used, then the law is going to become meaningless, but I don't see that happening," he said.

Georgia created the Joint House and Senate Study Committee on Immigration Reform to develop policies to enforce immigration laws in the state.

But some immigrant advocates question the benefit of such laws.

"All these laws have a high cost to target a population that is pretty small in the state. What is the real need?" said David Morales, spokesman for the Tennessee Immigrant and Refugee Rights Coalition.


In 2006 Georgia passed what then was considered one of the toughest immigration enforcement laws in the nation.

The Georgia Security and Immigration Compliance Act made it harder for illegal immigrants to receive health care, higher education and other public benefits.

It required people applying for benefits or those who work for businesses doing government work to prove they were legally in the country.

Dr. Pablo Perez, who moved to Dalton, Ga., 11 years ago, said the law has generated fear among immigrants.

"There are many out there who go to work not knowing if they're coming back, worried about who is going to take care of their children," Perez said.

Some people moved out of state as a result of the law, and many more probably would do so if Georgia adopts an Arizona-style law, he said.

State Rep. Roger Williams, R-Dalton, said Georgia's law already is very similar to Arizona's.

"I think what we do is go back to enforcement ... and strengthen what we already have. ... We have to be really careful about what [legislation] we introduce," he said.

Any state strategy must include a demand that the federal government do its job, state Sen. Charlie Bethel, R-Dalton, said.

"If we don't, we are spending huge amounts of resources that will not fix the ultimate problem," he said.

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about Perla Trevizo...

Perla Trevizo joined the Chattanooga Times Free Press in 2007 and covers immigration/diversity issues and higher education. She holds a master’s degree in newswire journalism from Universidad Rey Juan Carlos in Madrid, Spain, and a bachelor’s degree in political science from the University of Texas. In 2011 she participated in the Bringing Home the World international reporting fellowship program sponsored by the International Center for Journalists, producing a series on Guatemalan immigrants for which she ...

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ann said...

well,it sounds like all these people were going to get these laws started,but now their thinking about money it will cost,well look how much illegals have cost all the states,so i say go ahead and get started i had rather my tax dollars be spent on defending our laws then going to pay for illegals to have more babies and receive food stamps that should go to legal americans who are out of work,also if we break federal laws we get locked up and either,or pay fines and get prison time or both so tell me why foreigners are exempt from our laws?

January 14, 2011 at 12:37 a.m.
rolando said...

Amen to that, ann.

January 14, 2011 at 6:05 a.m.
libby said...

Nothing will be done to help this situation until big business is on board with it. They have too much too lose by passing hard immigration laws. Tackling big business will prove hard to do. The only President I can remember trying it was Bill Clinton vs Tyson Foods. The effort was great but the effect was little. If you can make it hard for those who hire illegal immigrants you may see some change.

January 14, 2011 at 6:57 a.m.
inquiringmind said...

Four major problems here:

  1. States have no constitutional right to regulate immigration. It is a right expressly delegated to the National government. Our elected officials are pandering your fears.

  2. Most of the opposition is fundamentally racist and selfish. Immigrants, especially from Central America, do work your normal white person will not consent to do, like pick avocados and strawberries, clean bathrooms, or construction labor work. Furthermore, most of them have a higher sense of work and family ethic than most of the folks we see around our city. They save their wages, live under very difficult circumstances and are often taken advantage of, but manage to send money back home for their families. Few of them sit back out in the outlying counties and cook or use crank, or push or use drugs in the downtown area, like some of our upstanding citizens do. The few that do run drugs for the cartel, like good capitalists, supply the demand of a purely American market of folks like our friends and neighbors.

  3. Immigration has been the strength of this country, virtually every advance in the country is built on a wave of immigration whose members work for a better life. Unfortunately for some these days, most of the new wave are not Northern Europeans, or Protestants.

  4. If you call yourself a Christian or Jew, you'll remember your obligation to provide compassion and support to the alien in your land, because "you yourselves were aliens in Egypt" and The Lord delivered you. Look at them in the face and treat them like a neighbor.

January 14, 2011 at 8:06 a.m.
hambone said...

Illegal immigration and abortion are just alike. As long as they are hot botton issues that can be used to rally the base, nothing will be done!

Coke comes in cans and bottles, from Atlanta!

January 14, 2011 at 9:29 a.m.
mommaofthree said...

what people for get about is the CHILDREN!!! They can not help were they were born or where their parent or parents were born. They are young and can not understand why or how come they want to take their parent or parents away from them. You can't help who you fall in love with or were they are born. What people have to remember is everybody was created the same and bleeds the same. They come for the ability to take care of their parents and family. Taking the chance to never see any of them again! Not normally coming to do bad! But, so their family can survive! But if you look at the news around here what do you normally see? Not them unless somebody is robbing them or taking advantage of them. You don't normally see them making meth labs or shooting and robbing folks! NO!

January 14, 2011 at 10:34 a.m.
Vickie803 said...

The future of this country is being determined by millions of welfare class that other countries find a burden. Mexico encourages the millions that come here. They want the (apparently dimwitted) gringos to support them and get the bonus of money being sent back into Mexico. I don't "hate" any individual, but I hate what is being done to this country at an expense we cannot afford. Citizens of this country are waiting for the immigration enforcement that was promised 26 years ago after the last mass amnesty.

January 14, 2011 at 11:02 a.m.
Tax_Payer said...

If those illegals get legalized, then Walmart will hire them up!

January 14, 2011 at 11:09 a.m.
LibDem said...

We should round up, detain, check out and deport every illegal for whom the legislature is willing to pay the cost. I'm guessing this will be in the range of zero to none.

The legislature should concentrate on important issues like how many guns I need to go to Applebee's. (If I'm loaded, do I even need a gun?)

January 14, 2011 at 12:13 p.m.
RiverRat84 said...

Put up the fence.........round up the illegals and send them back!!!!!!!!

January 14, 2011 at 12:20 p.m.
DelawareBob said...

Illegal aliens are destroying this Country, and one would have to be almost blind not to see this. How much longer do we have to support these illegal aliens? How much longer do we have to school their illegal alien children? How much longer are we going to let them have our jobs? How much longer are we going to put up with all the crime, stolen identities, forged documents, fake green cards? How much longer are we going to allow these illegal aliens to send money out of this Country and bring our Country down? Oh, amnesty will correct all this. WRONG! Nothing will change except we wouldn't be able to call them illegal aliens any more. Let's get rid of these illegal aliens! Let's get them back to their own Country where they belong!

Illegal immigration is a cancer, it has to be eradicated not tolerated.

January 14, 2011 at 12:41 p.m.
mommaofthree said...

would you go and work these jobs? on roofs in over 100 degrees with hot tar or in kitchens for hours at times with the heat that it gives.most Americans don't want these HARD jobs they want these easy ones where they don't have to sweat or work hard! that's sad to say, because i am a American.crime look around and open your eyes. most of them work up to 12 hours a day then go home to spend what little time they have left with their kids.bringing the country down is a joke don't they buy food and everyday supplies here to live isn't that helping the country and small businesses? the only reason they call them illegal is because they didn't win a war and become joined in with the united states, and for some idiot to compare it to cancer well now that is something that shouldn't be tolerated!!!!

January 14, 2011 at 1:09 p.m.
LibDem said...

Wildman: Employing students is indeed the right thing to do and I applaud your efforts.

I'm not clear on the cost of illegal immigrant welfare, but there is little doubt that illegals send much of their earnings to family abroad. This is a drain on our economy.

The willingness to pay a little more is a major stumbling block, however. Ask anyone in the Wal-Mart parking lot how much more they would pay for domestic products. Ask at the market how much shoppers will pay for produce from farms that use only legal workers.

January 14, 2011 at 3:08 p.m.
Amazed11 said...

Those of you who think immigrants are what is bringing America down are plain stupid!!! What is bringing America down are those people who see no need to be educated, the US falls behind many other countries in education. This law is a totally incorrect way or handling illegal immigration. A good way to start handling this, is for starters, any company should be required to have proof of citizenship of their employee, same goes with schooling but it has to be consistant across the board otherwise it leaves the door open for discrimination, which I know still happens now days.

January 14, 2011 at 4:42 p.m.
Brittanicus said...

Now is the time in joining the Tea Party movement near you and reclaim your rights and halt once and for all illegal immigration. Phone 202-224-3121 which is the switchboard number for Washington; so that you can also contact your Congressional representative In addition contact your State representative in your State. Read the undisclosed reports about the unbelievable cost in Los Angeles County, California, attributing to illegal immigration.

In Stockton, California, the Silverio family abused the welfare system fraudulently and was featured in the Wall Street Journal in 2003and the "stomach churning" financial free ride after entering America illegally. This is not an isolated case.

Little known to American citizens and legal entrants is the fraudulent IRS child credit regulations, and this should be viewed by every taxpaying American: and for further reading to explore: If this doesn't make you furious nothing will?

Another interesting summary of illegal alien hospital costs are available here,, and the next article:

The incarceration of illegal aliens has its own massive costs and should not be overlooked:

Here is the State of Arizona's overall costs for supporting the illegal alien annexation of that one state in 2009: Here is further evidence of illegal immigration is spiraling out of control.

Learn all there is to know about your share of illegal immigrant tax, cost, corruption, real numbers illegally settled here and the damage of overpopulation at and We need highly skilled workers for our nation, not the penniless or uneducated of foreign governments to support.

January 14, 2011 at 5:59 p.m.
Brittanicus said...


Let's face it most Americans are unaware of the astronomical costs for foreign nationals slipping past the border markers into America, or those who overstay their welcome on an expired visa from a country across one of the oceans? Many citizens and permanent residents are too engrossed in finding a job or trying to put a loaf of bread on the family table to get involved in the political situation. Another factor is they think there is nothing they can do about the invasion as a single voice, but the people are not just grass roots anti-illegal immigrants groups any more, as its manifested in part by the millions of Tea Party organizations and other persons from both parties. Even staunch Democrats and even delusional Liberals are starting to discern we need accountability, of where their taxes are going. Even populations of legal ethnic blocs are feeling the pinch on their taxes and the failure of our government to keep illegal people out of our country.


Investigate the costs on your own, about the growing illegal alien invasion. Our nation’s public welfare system is falling apart, because the indifferent lawmakers have been for years raiding the financial coffers of every State to educate children of illegal immigrants, offer free health care and whole cartload of extra monetary programs. The irony is that the majority of the occupational forces have never paid a penny into any treasury. The US Tea party is a secular, multi-racial propagating organization, which believes in the written word of America’s founders, less taxes, smaller government, secure borders and enforcement of the 1986 immigration laws.



January 14, 2011 at 5:59 p.m.
Wilder said...

inquiringmind says:

1.States have no constitutional right to regulate immigration. It is a right expressly delegated to the National government. Our elected officials are pandering your fears.

Wilder says:

You are presuming to have knowledge that you do not have.

The US Supreme Court has held that the constitution gives the federal government primary responsibility for promulgating and enforcing immigration laws. There is not anything in the constitution about or conveying exclusive authority to the federal government to regulate immigration.

What the high Court has held is that so long as state legislation is not inconsistent with nor preempted by, the federal constitution, states may pass legislation that touches on immigration matters. This is, after all, consistent with the 10th Amendment, which reserves to the states all powers not specifically delegated to the US government.

States are free to mandate that their law enforcement agencies cooperate with federal law enforcement in enforcing the immigration laws (e.g., turning over arrestees who are illegal to the border patrol).

States have the ability to pass laws so long as the state laws are neither inconsistent with nor cover areas that Congress has already legislated.

inquiringmind says:

2........ most of them have a higher sense of work and family ethic than most of the folks we see around our city. They save their wages, live under very difficult circumstances and are often taken advantage of, but manage to send money back home for their families.

Wilder says:

Most of them have no qualms about fraudulently obtaining benefits, paid for by US taxpayers, that they are not legally entitled to receive, like free health care and food stamps, free school lunches, and multitude of other social services.

Most of them do not incur multiple expenses that we do, like purchasing automobile insurance, health insurance, or a drivers's license.

On top of this, most of them pay absolutely nothing into the treasury. They are issued 1099's by unscrupulous employers, or they claim the maximum number of dependents - even though nothing is withheld from their pay ,many of them file tax returns, with no withholdings, and frauduently claim large tax credits that they are not entitled to - often this is split with one of the many Hispanic tax services.

They save their wages alright, by defrauding the American taxpayers.

January 14, 2011 at 6:51 p.m.
ann said...

To mommaofthree,just want to say that i have cleaned many bathrooms and houses and made very little money doing it but my family needed the money to make ends meet,my son has also worked putting new roofs on housesand many other hard low paying jobs,my daughter has also worked in motels,as well as my mother who was in her seventies ,she worked 7 days a week cleaning rooms for 2.00 a room,as i was growing up we had very little,my birth moma died when i was 9 years old,many times we didn;t even have food in the house,we didn;t know they even had welfare back then and we wouldn;t have taken it if we had knownbecause we belived you had to work for a living,not take off of others,i still belive that today,as far as these children you speak of their parents know we don't want them coming here illegaly,so its their fault if they suffer because they brought them here,they broke the law also,how many americans rob banks or people or stores and get to keep on walking the streets as free people,because they said well i needed money so i had to get it some way,that makes as much sense as what you have said about them like they have a right to be here just forget about the law.Also our town is filled with drug sellers and makers and guess what their mostly illegals,so most of what you have said is not true and we don;t fall for that,and shame on you for trying to use the kids to make us feel sorry for them,we have given and given but they only want to take more and more,so we need all the illegals to go back we welcome those who come threw the right and legal ways but as for the rest of you stay in your own country,we need our jobs

January 14, 2011 at 8:11 p.m.
whatsthefuss said...

When your done watching the last one spent a few minutes and check out the update. If YOUR A MOMMA OF THREE be careful of who you breed with.

January 14, 2011 at 8:18 p.m.
whatsthefuss said...

Remember Harry Reid was RE-ELECTED by the hispanic vote. Get them out of here!!!

January 14, 2011 at 8:20 p.m.
whatsthefuss said...

Hello Americans, we only have 300,000,000 people. What are you each willing to give up in your daily life to allow 1,ooo,ooo people this year to come here to be dependent on you???

January 14, 2011 at 8:27 p.m.
hambone said...

Want to make a difference?

Seek out and buy only American made goods!

They are there if you take the time to look.

January 14, 2011 at 10:18 p.m.
wigglwagon said...

"He called such issues "distractions" to the core issues the state needs to focus on: economic development and education."

Deporting illegal aliens is economic development. Every working illegal alien represents a legal family that has been forced into unemployment and poverty when their jobs were stolen by the illegals. The unemployment and other benefits that must be paid to these families is a major drain on every state and on the federal government.

January 15, 2011 at 2:24 a.m.
Humphrey said...

if TN legislature adds to the work required by colleges and universities to check citizenship of all students, then please add funding to the colleges and universities to pay for this new work, rather than further cutting funds and expecting and requiring additional unfunded mandates.

January 15, 2011 at 8:51 a.m.
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