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Memphis News & Weather | Memphis, TN | WATN - localmemphis.com

“Sanctuary City” issue deeply divides new TN House speaker and Nashville’s mayor

The controversial issue of sanctuary cities is pitting the new Republican Tennessee House speaker against Nashville’s Democratic mayor.

NASHVILLE, Tenn. (localmemphis.com) – The controversial issue of sanctuary cities is pitting the new Republican Tennessee House speaker against Nashville’s Democratic mayor.

Going on radio, television andreleasing a statement Tuesday, Speaker Cameron Sexton referred to MayorBriley’s recent executive action as trying to make Nashville “the SanFrancisco of the South.”

When asked to respond, MayorBriley said “Republicans in the state are trying to see who can be themost anti-immigrant amongst them all. It’s a big Republican issue rightnow.”

During an interview Tuesday,Speaker Sexton said, “What he is saying is telling law enforcement not tocomply with state law and federal laws.” 

Mayor Briley issued an executiveorder September 3rd urging repeal of House Bill 2315, which drew TennesseeCapitol Hill protests before it became law this year. The bill banssanctuary cities in Tennessee, requires law enforcement to comply with immigrationofficials, and allows the withholding of state economic development funds ifthere are violations.

Mayor Briley’s order also said,“all Metro employees should know that they will not be disciplined by thiscity or their supervisors for failure to comply with requests from Immigrationand Customs Enforcement unless required by state or federal law, or by courtorder.”

The Republican speaker says theDemocrat mayor has gone too far. Speaker Sexton says state lawmakers may lookat withholding other state money from Metro Nashville beyond several milliondollars in economic development funds. 

“So we feel compelled to lookat the entire budget and see if he continues to go down this road,” addedthe speaker. “Do they need to keep all 15-18% they get from the state intheir budget?”

That percentage could be severalhundred million dollars and would need new state legislation to penalizeNashville.

Mayor Briley dismisses anypotential state legislative action on his executive order.

“We were very careful thatthe executive order did not violate any state law, so the people of Nashvilledon’t need to be worried about losing any state money.” Mayor Briley saidin an interview.

He echoed concerns similar tothose who opposed passage of the anti-sanctuary city ban last year – thingslike some undocumented parents afraid to go to schools or even hospitals withtheir kids for fear they might be apprehended by immigration officials.

“We have to do everything wecan to make this a safe, strong and educated city and (HB) 2315 stands in theway of that,” added Mayor Briley.

This all comes as Briley isconsidered an underdog in Thursday’s mayoral runoff election. His challengerJohn Cooper, who lead Briley by 10-points in last month’s general election, said in a statement Tuesday that “every executive order will bereviewed by me when the time comes. I look forward to that happening, but we’renot there yet.”

Speaker Sexton maintains MayorBriley is “trying to circumvent the law” and “it’s just when hegot in a tight political campaign this year and it’s not looking too good thathe decided to try and make an issue out of it.”