MEMPHIS, Tenn. (localmemphis.com) - The Shelby County Attorney says a new Tennessee state law on jailed immigrants doesn't apply to the county. She says the law is void because it is too vague.
The law is supposed to govern sanctuary cities, but Shelby County isn't one. The attorney says if the law was followed, the county would likely be sued for violating peoples’ civil rights.
“I really think by disobeying the state law, we are obeying the us constitution,” said Mauricio Calvo, Executive Director of Latino Memphis. Calvo is glad Shelby County won’t follow the law, saying, “just because the state issues a law doesn't mean the law makes sense.”
The law attempts to force local authorities to hold immigrants who had been in jail beyond their normal release dates, in order to give federal immigration agents time to come to the jail to interview them or pick them up, even if they did not have a warrant.
“They are not going to hold anyone without probable cause,” said Marlinee Iverson, County Attorney.
Iverson says the way the law is written, people could be held indefinitely, based on nothing more than a request by the Department of Homeland Security or similar agency.
“It could be 48 hours, it could be 48 weeks, it could be 48 years and that's an unreasonable result,” said Iverson.
Shelby County says it will notify immigration if an inmate is going to be released, and will hold someone if there is a warrant or reason to, but won’t keep people without a reason.
“If there is a warrant, that is a different story. But just to see if there is something on you, that is unconstitutional,” said Calvo.
Governor Haslam says the law was written to stir up fear on both sides of the immigration issue, which is why he didn’t sign it when it became law.