June 1, 2006
The Tennessee Immigrant and Refugee Rights Coalition (“TIRRC”) reports that during the most recent General Assembly session of the Tennessee legislature more than 20 anti-immigrant bills were introduced. The subject matter of these bills ranged from repealing the driving certificate program, to requiring the Tennessee Highway Patrol to enforce immigration laws, to requiring all state employees to turn in any undocumented aliens with whom they come into contact. According to TIRRC, every one of these pieces of legislation failed to pass into law. While great news for Tennessee’s immigrant population, the report underscores the difficulty of making positive advances in the current political environment. Immigrant advocates have had to primarily fight a defensive battle, deflecting the many efforts to alienate immigrants from Tennessee communities. One piece of legislation that was passed by the legislature is a bill that prohibits any person who bids for government contracts to “knowingly utilize the services of illegal immigrants” and specifies that any person discovered utilizing illegal immigrants will be prevented from submitting a bid on any state contract for one year. Tennessee employers should take note and beware the efforts of competitors for state contracts to attempt to disqualify competing bidders on this ground.