An announcement from the TIRRC Board 

Dear TIRRC friends & family, 

On behalf of the Board of Directors, I am pleased to inform you that Lindsey Harris and Stephanie Teatro will be the new Co-Executive Directors of the Tennessee Immigrant and Refugee Rights Coalition. After an extensive national search, the Board realized that the best candidate for the Executive Director position was the dynamic duo in our midst! 

Stephanie and Lindsey have worked seamlessly together for the past year as TIRRC’s Interim Co-Directors. Over the past year, we have all seen what a powerful team they are, and we could not be more excited and fortunate to have them as our new, permanent Co-Executive Directors, effective immediately.

Lindsey came to TIRRC in 2008, and is a fluent Spanish speaker who has her undergraduate degree from Lipscomb University and her master’s degree from Belmont University. Lindsey will continue to oversee the organization's operations and development. Stephanie, herself an immigrant from Canada, joined TIRRC’s staff in 2012 and has her undergraduate degree from the University of Washington. She quickly became a recognized voice in the community and national immigration circles, and she will oversee our organizing, policy and programmatic work. 

Both Lindsey and Stephanie bring tremendous vision and dedication to their respective areas of work, and the board and staff have every confidence that they will be excellent partners in moving the coalition forward.

I would like to thank the members of TIRRC's Board of Directors, TIRRC's Search Committee, the TIRRC staff, and all of our friends and allies for supporting us throughout the search and transition process. 

Please join me in congratulating Lindsey and Stephanie!  

Best wishes, 

Daoud Abudiab

President, TIRRC Board of Directors


Joining Texas Lawsuit is a Step Backwards for Tennessee

On November 20th, President Obama announced a series of executive actions to provide relief to families in the absence of Congressional action. One of the largest pieces of the announcement was an expansion of deferred action which would allow young, undocumented immigrants and undocumented parents of US citizens and green card holders to apply for a three year protection from deportation and a work permit. In response, opponents of this action have filed lawsuits to stop the use of deferred action. One has been filed by notoriously anti-immigrant Arizona Sheriff Joe Arpaio, the other has been brought by 24 states, including Mississippi, Alabama, and Georgia. Today, Tennessee Attorney General Herbert Slatery joined the latter lawsuit.

The Tennessee Immigrant and Refugee Rights Coalition (TIRRC) is extremely disappointed in the decision of the Tennessee Attorney General to join the lawsuit, which is based on the false premise that protecting parents and children from deportation and allowing them to work legally will harm our state’s economy.

The following is a quote from Stephanie Teatro, Co-Executive Director of the Tennessee Immigrant and Refugee Rights Coalition (TIRRC):

“By joining this lawsuit, our state has taken a step backwards. Instead of finding ways to harness the economic potential of immigrants, who through executive action will be able to work legally and will add millions of dollars to our state economy, our Attorney General has joined the ranks of anti-immigrant states like Alabama and Arizona under a frivolous, costly lawsuit to prevent the actions from being implemented.

An estimated 50,000 Tennesseans will be able to apply for deferred action, allowing them to work legally, increase their earnings, and pay more in taxes. The economic and social benefits of this executive action are undeniable. But most importantly, the executive action provides relief from deportation and allows hard-working parents to no longer live in fear that they could be separated from their children.

Furthermore, joining this lawsuit and attempting to block the expansion of deferred action suggests that our state would be better off if US citizen kids are separated from their parents by deportation. By joining this lawsuit and working to stop the President’s deferred action program, the Attorney General promotes the very same gridlock that has prevented Congress from fixing our broken immigration system and led to the separation of hard working families.

We will continue to prepare for implementation and work to make this program a reality, knowing that it will benefit not only the families who can apply but the entire state of Tennessee.“


TN House Members Vote to Undo Protections for Immigrant Moms and Dads, 12/4/14

Eben Cathey, Communications Coordinator: 615-775-1069

Nashville - Today, all seven Republican House members in Tennessee voted to undo President Obama's progress on granting administrative relief to millions of mothers, fathers, and children. Those who cast the mean-spirited vote to deport moms and dads demonstrated their lack of compassion for tens-of-thousands of families in Tennessee, and their preference to put politics before people.

Those who will benefit from the President's policy change represent a fraction of immigrant families that need relief, and much less than the potential beneficiaries of the Immigration Reform bill that passed the Senate. Instead of building on the progress the President has made towards repairing our immigration system, many of our House members are attempting to tear down the potential foundations of reform. It is well-known that the measure has nearly no chance of passing the Senate.

TIRRC will continue holding education sessions across the state to answer questions about administrative relief, educate immigrant community members about how to prepare for the application process, and offer assistance when necessary. We've already reached thousands of people, and will continue to make DACA and DAPA as accessible for possible for immigrant families across the state.


TIRRC Statement on Ferguson, 11/25/2014

Español abajo

For More Information/Para Más Información:
D.J. Hudson, Multicultural Youth Organizer: 615-833-0384 or DJ@TNIMMIGRANT.ORG (English)
Leticia Alvarez, Lead Organizer: 615-833-0384 or LETICIA@TNIMMIGRANT.ORG (Español) 


Upon last night's announcement of the decision of the grand jury in Missouri that they would not indict Darren Wilson, the white police officer who killed Mike Brown, an unarmed black teen, the Tennessee Immigrant and Refugee Rights Coalition (TIRRC) issues the following statement:

We are outraged not only by the decision of the grand jury last night, but by the ongoing systemic racism that has been exemplified by the consistent absence of consequences for the taking of black lives and the injustices against communities of color.

For the past decade, TIRRC has been fighting for the rights and dignity of the immigrant community. We have organized and mobilized against the criminalization, surveillance, and mass incarceration of immigrants and against the crisis of deportations that has taken more than 1000 people from our communities every single day. TIRRC has been fighting for our community's right to remain: for the rights of immigrant families not to have to worry each day that their family members will not return home one day, that they may be taken by ICE. We stand in solidarity with the millions of African American families, like the Browns, who each day must worry that their sons may not return home, because they are 21 times as likely to be killed by police than white sons. As we demand not one more deportation and not one more family being separated, we also demand not one more black life lost to police violence. 

In the wake of the Ferguson announcement, we stand in solidarity with the community of Ferguson, the Brown family, and communities across the country who are grieving this injustice. We will continue to organize alongside all communities who demand racial justice, equity, and police accountability--in Ferguson, in Red Bank, TN, and across the country.
We encourage our members to stand in solidarity with Ferguson and participate in actions organized in their local communities (see full list below):
Tras el anuncio de anoche de la decisión del gran jurado en Missouri de no acusar a Darren Wilson,el oficial de policía que mató a Mike Brown, un adolescente desarmado, La Coalición por los Derechos de Inmigrantes y Refugiados de Tennessee (TIRRC) ha emitido la siguiente declaración:

"Estamos indignados no solo por la decisión del gran jurado anoche, sino también por el continuo racismo sistemático que se ha ejemplificado por la constante ausencia de consecuencias al teminar la vida de negros y las injusticias contra las comunidades de color. 

Durante la ultima década, TIRRC ha estado luchando por los derechos y la dignidad de la comunidad inmigrante. Nos hemos organizado y movilizado en contra la criminalización, vigilancia y encarcelamiento masivo de inmigrantes y en  contra la crisis de deportaciones que se ha llevado a mas de 1000 personas de nuestras comunidades a diario. TIRRC ha estado luchando para que los derechos de nuestra comunidad permanezcan: por los derechos de familias inmigrantes de no tener que preocuparse cada día si sus familiares van a regresar a casa por que fueron apresados por ICE. Nosotros nos solidarizamos con los millones de familias afro-americanas, como los Browns, los cuales se preocupan cada día si su hijo volverá a casa ya que ellos tienen 21 veces mas probabilidad de ser asesinados por un policía que un hijo de un blanco. Como exigimos no tener una deportación mas y ni una familia mas separada, también exigimos no perder mas vidas negras debido a violencia policial. 

A raíz del anuncio de Ferguson, nos solidarizamos con la comunidad de Ferguson, la familia Brown y las familia en el país que están sufriendo esta injusticia. Nosotros continuaremos organizando junto con las comunidades que exigen justicia racial, igualdad y responsabilidad policial- en Ferguson, en  Red Bank, TN, a través del país.
Animamos a nuestros miembros a entrar en solidaridad con Ferguson y participar en acciones organizadas en sus comunidades locales:


Solidarity actions happening today in Tennessee/Las acciones de solidaridad que suceden hoy (11/25/2014) en Tennessee:

Johnson City ETSU parking lot across from MacDonalds 7:00pm, candle light vigil at 7:30, Johnson City water fountain

Dunlap Sequatchie County Courthouse 22 Cherry Street 5:00pm

Oak Ridge Y-12 National Security Complex 602 Scarsboro Rd 7pm






It took courage and vision.

President Obama finally did it.

After years of pressure from grassroots communities across the country, President Obama used his executive authority to reform immigration enforcement policy, make critical changes to employment and family-based immigration channels, and expand deportation relief to millions of undocumented people. Last night TIRRC members gathered together for watch parties across the state, and with mixed emotions we listened to the President outline his executive actions. We celebrated and cried tears of relief with members who learned that they qualify under the President's new deportation relief program. Members like Martha, who has lived in the US for more than twenty years and will see her daughter graduate from high school this year, and Diana, a TIRRC board member who benefited from the President's 2012 announcement of Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals. Since receiving DACA, Diana has been able to work, go to school, and live without fear of deportation herself, yet every day she still worried that her mother would be deported. Fortunately, Diana's mom will qualify for this new program because Diana's siblings are US citizens.

While the newspapers and pundits may analyze last night's announcement and chalk it up to good policy or political maneuvering, we know this is the result of years of fearless, tireless organizing by members like Martha and Diana and undocumented families across the country. Today we celebrate the courage, vision, and relentless commitment of our members and thank you for helping to make this victory possible. We also know that our work is not done, and in the coming days, weeks, and months we will be doing the hard work of making this victory a reality for tens of thousands of families in Tennessee. TIRRC is leading efforts to inform immigrants about the policy change, protect them from legal services fraud, convene local governments and partners to help them prepare to apply, and once the applications are released, we will work with member organizations and pro bono attorneys to help eligible immigrants apply for the new forms of deportation relief. Even as we implement the victory, we must also defend it. It is more important than ever that our we all come together and stand with immigrant families, knowing that many Tennessee politicians are already working to reverse or undermine our victory.

This announcement is also bittersweet; we know it didn't go far enough or come soon enough. Since taking office, the President has deported more than two million people who were not able to celebrate the announcement with their families last night, and although millions of people will benefit from the policy change, millions more were excluded. Parents of DREAMers will continue to live in fear of being separated from their children, and by tying access to relief to having children in the US, millions of immigrants, including many of our LGBTQ members, have been excluded. We will continue to organize until the whole community is protected from deportation and more permanent immigration reform has passed. But last night affirmed that when we organize, we win huge victories that transform lives on a large scale. 

Thank you to everyone who has worked over the last decade to make this moment possible. We are honored to be in the trenches alongside of each you, and together, we make Tennessee a more just and welcoming state each day.

Lindsey Harris & Stephanie Teatro
Interim Co-Directors