|NASHVILLE, TN – This morning, Nashville Mayor David Briley signed Executive Order No. 11, an immigration-related directive that creates departmental and reporting processes related to Metro interaction with Immigration & Customs Enforcement (ICE). While advocates at the Tennessee Immigrant & Refugee Rights Coalition (TIRRC) appreciate the intent of the executive order, they believe the city can do more to leverage the full power of Metro government under existing laws to protect immigrants in Nashville.
The following is a statement from Stephanie Teatro, co-executive director of TIRRC:
“By signing this executive order, Mayor Briley has shown he understands the impact that increased immigration enforcement is having on the lives of immigrant families and their safety in our city. We agree that the state legislature should swiftly repeal HB2315 and that Metro Legal should dedicate significant resources to challenging the unconstitutional law.
The executive order, however, overstates the limitations the legislation places on Metro departments. As outlined in our Beyond Welcoming policy platform, even under HB2315, there are concrete steps that Metro government can take to disentangle local agencies from federal immigration enforcement.
In this historic moment, the city must use every tool we have to protect immigrant families. We hope this executive order is the first in a more robust set of policies from the Mayor and Metro Council that protect immigrant families and draw a bright line between the work of the city and federal immigration enforcement.
Through the continued assaults of the Trump administration, Nashville’s values have consistently been on display as thousands of community members have marched and rallied to oppose every threat to the safety of immigrant and refugee families. It’s time for our policies and elected officials to reflect the urgency, sense of responsibility, and moral clarity that Nashvilians feel to protect immigrant families.”
Background: Executive Order No. 11 comes on the heels of several highly-publicized incidents demonstrating how Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) agents rely on local government agencies to deport Nashvillians. Six weeks ago, ICE agents attempted to arrest a man from his home in Hermitage and called on agents from the Metro Nashville Police Department (MNPD) to assist. Last week, WSMV broke a story on how Nashville’s probation department, “doesn’t just cooperate with ICE, they go out of their way to help get people deported.”
The executive order requires that Metro department heads be made aware of any requests from ICE and that the city will gather and report on the nature and total number of requests agencies receive each year. The order does not provide guidance for how departments should respond to requests from ICE to ensure what happened in Hermitage or the probation department does not reoccur.
TIRRC has been advocating for Metro government to implement meaningful policies to draw a bright line between the work of our city and federal immigration enforcement since 2017. After Trump was inaugurated and began implementing his campaign of mass deportations, TIRRC worked with Metro Council Members Bob Mendes, Colby Sledge, and others to introduce legislation that would draw a bright line between the work of city agencies and federal immigration enforcement. Even at that time, TIRRC warned policy makers that “ICE has also acquired information about who is currently on state and local probation in Davidson County, and may try to request information about when someone is scheduled to appear for their probation appointment.”
In May of this year, TIRRC released a twenty-page policy platform entitled Beyond Welcoming that was designed to serve as a blueprint for the next mayor and Metro Council. To create the platform, TIRRC surveyed 5000 immigrants and refugees in Nashville and consulted 40 partner organizations. The first section of the platform urges policy makers to dismantle the deportation pipeline and in Nashville, including specific recommendations to:
“…[E]nact policies that disentangle local law enforcement and other local government agencies from federal immigration enforcement, such as by prohibiting participation in enforcement operations and prohibiting employees from spending time responding to inquiries from ICE (e.g. notifying ICE about an individual’s custody status, release date, or scheduled appearance date for court or probation proceedings);
Require that each agency review its data collection, retention, and disclosure policies to only collect what is necessary to provide services; publicize these privacy protections with clients and communities;
[D]irect all public agencies and encourage all other institutions, such as courts, businesses and hospitals, to establish policies and procedures to create “safe spaces” for immigrants by strengthening privacy protections, prohibiting participation or assistance with civil immigration enforcement operations, and training staff on how to respond to requests for information or collaboration from federal immigration enforcement agents; and
Adopt a policy specifically clarifying that no Davidson County personnel have the authority to prolong any stop in order to investigate immigration status or to allow ICE to investigate immigration status; and officers shall not rely to any degree on actual or perceived national origin, immigration or citizenship status, in deciding to initiate a stop, or in deciding to question, search, arrest, detain or take any other law enforcement action against any individual, except when a specific suspect description includes information related to the above categories links a specific person to suspected criminal activity”