In the closing days of the runoff campaign, incumbent Nashville Mayor David Briley is singing a sanctuary song that cannot be music to the ears of any voter who cares about public safety.
On Tuesday, Briley signed an executive order that prevents Nashville city agencies from cooperating with Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) and also directs city attorneys to examine ways to challenge the constitutionality of HB2315, the Tennessee anti-sanctuary bill which took effect in January.
Briley, who is trailing Metro Council member John Cooper in most polls, also called for the delegation from Davidson County, which includes Nashville, to take action in the State Assembly to repeal HB2315.
In May 2018, HB2315 passed Tennessee’s state House and was allowed to become law after Republican Gov. Bill Haslam declined to veto it.
According to the executive order, HB2315 “keeps the elderly locked in their homes,” prevents babies from getting wellness check-ups and emergency care, and even “results in families going hungry.” Furthermore, Briley claimed in his public signing ceremony, it is “un-American” and “reminiscent of the general warrants that resulted in the American Revolution.”
Putting the ridiculous rhetoric aside, the order will require every Nashville city agency to notify a department head when a request from ICE is received and it states that no city agency or employee will grant permission to ICE or Customs and Border Protection agents to use the city’s facilities, information or electronic databases for investigative purposes.
It does not end there. Nashville Police Department officers will be prohibited from asking about immigration status and country of origin will be removed from all municipal citations.
The fact is that HB2315 – which passed with a veto-proof majority – does not force localities into taking on new roles or financial burdens. It merely prevents local jurisdictions from adopting sanctuary policies that prevent cooperation with ICE, which is something which Briley once said he supported.
The law fosters cooperation with federal authorities, which once was a position Briley held. In a previous mayoral campaign, Briley supported the 287(g) program and also argued that “tolerating [employers who hire illegal immigrants]damages our community and wrongfully undermines lawful job-seeking immigrants who took the time to play by the rules.”
He even ran a campaign ad warning of a dire future if the next mayor ignored pressing issues, including “drunk driving or crimes committed by illegal immigrants left unchecked.”
But times have changed and as they are both Democrats, they are singing the same pro-sanctuary song. Cooper did not disagree with the mayor’s goal of obstructing ICE, instead he merely charged it was “a press release masquerading as an executive order.”
Cooper could easily reverse the executive order if the polls bear out and he is elected mayor. His statements during the campaign imply he would adopt the same anti-enforcement approach as Briley.
While Nashville residents face a choice between two candidates who take essentially the same position on a very important public safety issue, they would be advised to push back against any effort to roll back anti-sanctuary laws. Why? Just ask the residents of another sanctuary county. In Montgomery County, Maryland, seven illegal aliens have been arrested on charges of rape or sexual assault in the last six weeks.