PRESS STATEMENTTuesday, May 8, 2018Contact: Lisa Sherman-Nikolaus | Lisa@tnimmigrant.orgFaith Leaders to Governor: Veto Mass Deportation BillClergy pray outside State Capitol, deliver letter to Governor signed by nearly 200 faith leaders from across Tennessee
Nashville - This afternoon, May 8th, faith leaders across many traditions gathered at Legislative Plaza to pray that Tennessee will remain a welcoming state for immigrants. Following the prayer gathering, the group of 20 delivered a letter to Governor Haslam, signed by almost 200 faith leaders, that urges him to veto HB2315. Despite the many moral, constitutional, and fiscal concerns about the legislation, HB2315 passed the TN General Assembly on April 25th.
Read the faith leaders’ letter to the governor here. || See photos of the gathering and letter delivery here.
HB2315 will virtually require police to inquire about immigration and citizenship status, prohibit common-sense local policies that promote community trust and public safety, and take away discretion from local law enforcement by turning requests from Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) into unconditional directives.
Rev. Carlos Uroza, Methodist Pastor of Primera Iglesia Metodista in Nashville, spoke about the moral imperative for the governor to protect all Tennessee families:“We see this as a moral issue, not a political issue. As faith leaders, we are called to serve, protect, and unite our community. This bill does the exact opposite of that. The Bible tells us to welcome and love our strangers. But at this point, most of these immigrants aren’t even strangers to Tennessee - they’ve lived here for years. Tennessee welcomed me, an immigrant, here. We hope that Governor Haslam does the right thing and keeps the state welcoming to immigrants.”
Rabbi Philip “Flip” Rice, Congregation Micah, said the challenge of welcoming immigrants is one worth taking:“The greatest story ever told inspires us in the Jewish community to act with compassion for the widow, orphan, and refugee. Everyone knows what it feels like to be somewhere - a social event, religious service, class - and not really belong. It is not a nice feeling. So our tradition challenges us to reach out to that person and show them hospitality.”
Rabbi Shana Mackler, The Temple, Congregation Ohabai Sholom, said that vetoing HB2315 is a matter of upholding many of our most cherished shared values:“Standing together, acting and advocating together as people of faith, we live out our morals and values from our shared traditions. In our sacred texts, we are taught to love the stranger, to welcome the stranger, to protect and care for and provide for the stranger, to not oppress the stranger. Calling for Governor Haslam to veto this legislation is the right and moral thing to do.”
Emily Baird-Chrisohon, Welcoming Tennessee Coordinator for the Tennessee Immigrant and Refugee Rights Coalition, said that the faith community needs to continue to support their immigrant neighbors:"A common call found throughout different faith traditions is the imperative to love our neighbor and welcome the stranger. HB2315 is a dangerous bill that would cause great damage to our Tennessee families and communities, and we are hopeful that Governor Haslam will help keep Tennessee welcoming by vetoing this bill. Today, faith leaders are sending a clear message to the governor that vetoing HB2315 is the right thing to do. It is important that the faith community stay vigilant in this ask and continue to stand with our immigrant neighbors."
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.