New Tennessee Immigration Law goes into effect

January 3, 2011 § Leave a comment

As of January 1, Tennessee jailers must check every new inmate’s citizenship to make sure he or she is not in the country illegally. The new immigration law requires local law enforcement to ask every inmate two questions: Where were you born, and are you here legally? Rhea County Sheriff Mike Neal says the county’s jail in Dayton, TN means few changes because of the new law. “It’s the exact thing that we’ve already been doing.” Supporters of the law say it can help curb illegal immigration because authorities are required to turn over detainees with questionable citizenship to the U.S. Bureau of Immigration and Customs Enforcement. ICE then decides whether to deport the inmate or let him/her continue through the normal legal system. Sheriff Neal says waiting for answers from ICE does not waste jail space, time or money. “It’s not going to jam up anything, any worse than what it was.” Some critics like the American Civil Liberties Union of Tennessee wonder whether the new law will help put a stop to illegal immigration, or be used as a tool to racially profile. They say it gives officers more opportunity to misuse power. (WTVC)

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