The 2014 legislative session is underway! In recent years, the General Assembly has debated and voted on some of the harshest anti-immigrant policies in the country. TIRRC has been leading the fight at the legislature to hold the line and stop bills from passing that make it more difficult for immigrant families to live, learn, work, and worship in Tennessee. This year, it's clear the tide is turning.
Far fewer legislators are introducing bills to marginalize and limit the participation of immigrant communities. In fact, members of both parties have recognized the value of investing in immigrant integration and have introduced positive bills.
As the campaign for comprehensive, federal immigration reform continues, we'll be fighting for a more welcoming Tennessee at the state legislature.
Tuition Equality Now!
Each year, undocumented students graduate in Tennessee with hopes of continuing their education, but no matter how long they have lived in the state, they must pay more than three times as much to attend a public college or university--even if they meet all other residency requirements as other students.
We are so happy to announce that two bills have been filed that would expand access to in-state tuition rates to Tennessee graduates, regardless of their immigration status. One of these pieces of legislation is getting ready to be heard in committee, so be on the lookout for opportunities to take action! Learn more about the bills here.
Bills to Watch
Expanding E-Verify. In 2011, the General Assembly passed a bill expanding the use of E-Verify by employers in Tennessee. This year, Representative Joe Carr (R-Lascassas) and Senator Joey Hensley (R-Hohenwald), have introduced a bill that would require the use of this costly and inaccurate program for all businesses with more than six employees. E-verify undermines worker rights and protections, makes it difficult for lawful immigrant workers to find jobs, and burdens small businesses. TIRRC strongly opposes this bill.
Remaining 2013 anti-immigrant bills. We'll continue to monitor and oppose the anti-immigrant bills that were filed in 2013 and remain active. These bills include efforts to defund refugee resettlement, take driver licenses away from DACA recipients, undermine immigrant civic engagement, violate due process in criminal justice proceedings, and require driver license examinations to be conducted in English-only. Read more about all of the bills here.
In addition to these bills, several legislators have proposed legislation that hurts working families, people of color, and the LGBTQ community. TIRRC will work in solidarity with our allies to oppose these bills and promote economic, racial, and social justice for all people in Tennessee.