PRESS STATEMENTTuesday, June 6, 2017Contact: Stephanie Teatro | Stephanie@tnimmigrant.orgNASHVILLE - Tonight in a voice vote, the Nashville Metro Council passed two ordinances, BL-739 and BL-743, that were filed by Council Member At-Large Bob Mendes and District 17 Council Member Colby Sledge. Together, the ordinances draw a bright line between the work of local government and federal immigration enforcement and ensure the city isn't helping carry out mass deportation. Tonight's vote was the first hurdle for the ordinances, which will be up for the second of three votes on June 20th.The Tennessee Immigrant and Refugee Rights Coalition (TIRRC) is leading the Nashville Together campaign to organize immigrants, refugees, and their neighbors in support of this legislation. Over 80 immigrant community members, faith leaders, and supporting organizations came out to city hall for the first vote, demonstrating the growing, broad support across Nashville. Since January 2017, the Trump administration has increasingly blurred the lines between city services and federal immigration enforcement. This has had a chilling effect on immigrant families accessing critical services and participating in the city. Recognizing that the cooperation of immigration communities and public agencies is critical to fulfilling the mission of the city, BL-739 seeks to clarify the roles and responsibility of our local government to reassure residents and encourage participation in public life and cooperation with city agencies. The second ordinance, BL-743, could bring an end to the use of Davidson County jail as an immigrant detention center. The sheriff's office currently detains immigrants that are picked up by Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) from within and outside of the county for civil immigration violations.The following quote is from Dulce Castro, a TIRRC member who lives in District 7: "Every day, I am worried and scared for my undocumented parents as they commute to work. I wonder if it will be the last time I see them, and who will take care of my 10 year-old sister, a U.S. citizen, and myself. But, today, I feel hopeful and optimistic that Metro Council has taken this first step to protect immigrant families like mine. While we still have more hurdles to overcome, I am encouraged to see many more immigrant residents joining our campaign, engaging with their local government, and fighting for their families. I hope other communities across Tennessee will follow our example."
The following quote is from Abdil Nasir Gedi, a TIRRC member who lives in District 13:"As black immigrants from a predominantly Muslim country, my community is discriminated against three times over. Since January, we've seen Somali communities across the U.S. being targeted by over-policing, immigration raids, and deportations. For Somalis, deportations are a death sentence. Here in Nashville, Somali families are fearful and anxious about their future, but today, I am happy that Metro Council took the first step to protect immigrant communities. While there is still a lot to do to address discrimination and inequality, I am proud to support the Nashville Together campaign so my community can feel a little bit more secure. These ordinances make us feel a little safer engaging with public agencies without the fear of being separated from our loved ones."
The following is a quote from Stephanie Teatro, Co-Executive Director of the Tennessee Immigrant & Refugee Rights Coalition (TIRRC):"In an era of mass deportations, its critical that our city update and clarify our policies to protect immigrant residents, restore trust in city agencies, and uphold our values. It's fitting that the council considered these ordinances while voting on the city budget. We need to ensure local resources are directed towards local priorities like transit, education, and affordable housing -- not separating Nashville families. While we still have a long way to go, we are encouraged by the support we've received from members of Metro Council and the broad-based coalition organizing in support of the policies."
To learn more about the ordinances, click here.
TIRRC is a statewide, immigrant and refugee-led collaboration whose mission is to empower immigrants and refugees throughout Tennessee to develop a unified voice, defend their rights, and create an atmosphere in which they are recognized as positive contributors to the state. Since its founding in 2001, TIRRC has worked to develop immigrant leadership, build the capacity of its immigrant-led member organizations, help immigrant community members understand and engage in the civic process, and educate the public about policies that would better promote integration of new immigrants and facilitate their full participation in US society. In just a few years TIRRC has grown from a grassroots network of community leaders into one of the most diverse and effective coalitions of its kind, a model for emerging immigrant rights organizations in the Southeast and throughout the United States.