Tennessee Considers Arizona-style imigration Law
Tennessee’s legislators plan to consider a bill next year styled after Arizona’s SB 1070, even though the state already has strict laws targeting illegal immigrants. State Sen. Bill Ketron and Rep. Joe Carr, both Republicans, are preparing a bill that criminalizes illegal immigrants and authorizes local law enforcement authorities to detain “any person” suspected of being in the country unlawfully.
“You can’t deny how [illegal immigration] is affecting us, from education to healthcare to the judicial system to incarceration, and more importantly the number of jobs it’s taken away,” Ketron said.
Like Tennessee, other nearby states, including North Carolina and South Carolina, have expressed an interest in starting out the new legislative session in 2011 reviewing measures similar to the law in Arizona, the first in the nation to criminalize being in the country unlawfully.
Tennessee, where foreign-born people account for roughly four percent of the total population, already has restrictive measures that will take effect on Jan. 1.
The most controversial is SB 1141/HB 670, which requires local jails -- despite no training, funds, supervision or access to federal immigration databases -- to verify the immigration status of all those detained. There is also a measure that allows businesses to insist that employees speak only English for “security and efficiency.”
During the vehement debate over the implementation of SB 1070 in Arizona, a group of Tennessee legislators sent a letter to that state’s governor, Jan Brewer, praising her for signing the bill into law.
Recently, another Tennessee legislator, Republican Curry Todd, who supports strict immigration measures, gained notoriety when he said that illegal immigrants “multiply like rats.” Todd later apologized for the comment, but maintains his opposition to illegal immigration.
Latino Republicans seeks to shape Colorado immigration debate
A national grassroots organization of Latino Republicans this week announced it is opening a Colorado chapter in order to impact the immigration debate in Colorado.
Somos Republicans (Somos is a Spanish word that transates to “we are” in English) was founded last year in Arizona in response to what its founder sees as hateful and destructive rhetoric and legislation in that state. It has since expanded into 10 additional states, with more coming online soon.
“Our only purpose in the beginning was to try and save the Republican Party’s image with Hispanics,” founder DeeDee Garcia Blase told The Colorado Independent this morning.
She said the group started small and “exploded” when Governor Jan Brewer signed SB 1070. “People feel they have to take a stand. We have to get in the ring and fight. They want Hispanics to leave the party. They try to discourage us, but we aren’t going to leave the party. We’re going to fight for the party. We are going to return it to the values of Ronald Reagan and Lincoln. They are hijacking the party with people like the Tancredo Club.”
Garcia Blase said she has always been a Republican. She joined the military after seeing pictures in Time magazine of Saddam Hussein gassing Kurds. “I joined the military because I wanted to kill Saddam. I wanted to help the underdog. I can’t help it. That’s the way I am.”
She said three-fourths of Latinos in the United States are Catholics or evangelical Christians. “Pro-life, pro-family positions are important to us. A strong national defense is important to us. Most of us want to be Republicans, but Republicans choose to demonize us with talk of anchor babies and English only laws and repealing the 14th Amendment. Let me tell you something, Hispanics speak English and the ones who don’t speak it want to learn. You don’t need to pass a law demonizing us. Calling the children of immigrants anchor babies demonizes us.”
She said Republicans in Colorado think they lost the Senate and Governor’s race because of liberal spending.
“That’s wrong. Democrats won in Colorado because of Tom Tancredo and people like him demonizing us. You’re missing the boat with this English-only crap. Leave us alone,” she said. “Democrats in Colorado are smart. They know Tom Tancredo is the best Christmas present they could ever get. Republicans just don’t get it.”
Even so, she said she and the people in her group are committed Republicans.
In Colorado, Steven Rodriguez is leading the effort with Somos. Rodrigues is a past candidate for the legislature and a fourth generation Pueblo resident. He is currently trying to drum up support for a document called the Colorado Compact, modeled after the Utah Compact, which Somos has had tremendous success with. The Compact is a short statement that Somos hopes will be used as a guideline in any immigration legislation considered in the statehouse this next session.