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State By State: Tennessee Law and the Immigration Issue


America - it used to be a melting pot, a place where the tired, the poor, the huddled masses yearning to breathe free could find refuge and a new life. We are a nation of immigrants, and yet in recent years, the tide has turned against the flood of foreign faces to these shores. Call it politics, or profiling, but we have turned our back on the past and are proceeding with seemingly incongruous ideas like border walls and travel bans.

With such inconsistencies taking place at the highest levels of elected office, it's time to see how the latest trends are impacting the State of Tennessee. Of course, thanks to the Doctrine of Preemption, tradition holds that all matters surrounding immigration are handled by the Federal Government. However, local officials have tried to undermine some of the more troubling trends. Sanctuary cities and regions are just one way states are fighting back. Other areas have even joined in the fight, helping Uncle Sam purge undocumented illegals from our neighborhoods.

So how does Tennessee respond to the issue? Let's break it down via subject:

  1. Law Enforcement - Officials in city and county jails are required to report anyone in violation of immigration laws to ICE (US Immigration and Customs Enforcement). If they cannot verify your citizen status within three (3) days, the government has to be contacted. The federal program "Secure Communities" require all arrestees be fingerprinted and checked through a database for criminal record and immigrant status.
  2. Employment - Hire the undocumented or illegal immigrant? The State may deny, suspend, or revoke your license to do business here.
  3. E-Verify Requirements - If you have six or more employees in your business, you have to verify eligibility via E-Verify, as well as maintain the record of all results.
  4. Driver's License - No proof of citizenship or legal residence? No access to a Tennessee state driver's license or State ID card.
  5. Public Benefits - Illegal or undocumented immigrants cannot have access to most public benefits. They can, however, receive emergency services, healthcare, and other programs "necessary to protect life and safety."
  6. Voting ID - If you don't have #4 as listed above, you can't vote. If you don't have it with you at the time of polling, you can vote via provisional ballot as long as, two days later, your return with your ID and sign an affidavit.

This does not cover every issue that can arise regarding immigration. In fact, every individual situation needs to be examined by and overseen by an expert in the field of immigration law and state/federal mandate. That's why hiring a lawyer is so important. Without one, your rights can be violated, and your status as a 'citizen' placed in jeopardy.

Attorney, Brian Lee Nash has nearly a decade of experience working with a wide range of clients. He brings a vast amount of knowledge, drive, and determination to every case he works with. If you're currently involved in an immigration dispute, have questions about your legal status, or want more information on Tennessee and its approach to the immigration issue, please contact Nash Law, PLLC today at 615-628-7555.

This article was written by the author on behalf of Nash Law, PLLC.