Governor Lee Signs Bipartisan Bill Opening Door For Non-U.S. Citizens To Receive Professional Licenses In TN

Image Credit: Gov. Bill Lee / Facebook

The Tennessee Conservative [By Jason Vaughn] –

Recently, the House and Senate voted to pass an amended caption bill that paves the way for non-U.S. citizens to obtain professional and commercial licenses in the Volunteer state.  The bill was transmitted to Governor Bill Lee on April 22nd and obtained his signature April 26th, making the legislation a law. 

The amendment that made the bill and that was approved in both chambers of the Tennessee Legislature states:

SUMMARY OF BILL AS AMENDED (015002): Authorizes an individual to apply for a professional license or a commercial license if such individual is authorized under federal law to work in the United States as verified by the federal Systematic Alien Verifications for Entitlements (SAVE) program.

The SAVE (Systematic Alien Verification for Entitlements) program is an online service provided by U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services that allows federal, state, and local benefit-granting agencies to verify a benefit applicant’s immigration status or naturalized/derived citizenship.

34 House Republicans voted in favor of House Bill 2309, while 15 Senate Republicans voted in favor of Senate Bill 2464.  

The sponsors and supporters of the legislation claim that the legislation applies to individuals that are “legally within the United States, and legally authorized to work.”

However, opponents argue that many that would be granted permission to receive professional licenses under this legislation actually have illegal immigration status.  

The bill enables DACA (Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals) grantees and individuals granted Temporary Protected Status (TPS) to get professional and commercial licenses. Both immigration categories allow recipients to stay in the U.S. with work authorization for a limited period of time with grantees being required to renew their DACA grant every two years.

DACA grants two years of “lawful presence” for purposes of deferred deportation because the individual’s immigration status remains illegal under the law.

In addition, opponents argue that the DACA program itself is unconstitutional because it was put into effect by the executive branch of the U.S. government under the Obama administration.  

Governor Lee had the power to veto the bill, but he chose to sign it into law only four days after the bill reached his desk.  His signature makes the bill a law effectively immediately; an act that many believe will serve as a magnet for more illegal aliens to migrate to and successfully habitate in the Volunteer State.

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Problems with illegal immigration into the state of Tennessee were first made public in April 2021 when The Tennessee Conservative broke the story of immigrant minors being held in old Tennessee Temple Dormitory in Chattanooga.

The UACs (unaccompanied alien children) had been brought to Chattanooga due to a federal grant awarded to the Baptiste Group by the Biden Administration in the amount of $3.7 million dollars.

In June, 2021, through a surprise inspection of the Chattanooga facility by the Tennessee Department of Child’s Services, two counts of sexual assault against minors by staff members were discovered, and later, at least one count of a minor running away.  

The State responded by revoking the Baptiste Group’s license to run the facility and by mid-July, 2021, Tennessee administrative law judge Phillip Hilliard had ruled in support of the State’s decision.

Due to the outcries of constituents and the fact that the Chattanooga story had gone National, House Speaker Cameron Sexton and Lt. Gov. Randy McNally responded by launching a committee to study refugee relocation in the state of Tennessee in June of 2021.

The ‘Joint Study Committee on Refugee Issues’ had several meetings concluding in January 2022, but in the end, offered zero workable recommendations to actually end illegal immigration into Tennessee.


Constituents had high hopes that legislation would be passed in the General Assembly this session that would at least slow the influx of illegal immigrants into Tennessee, yet, no meaningful legislation was passed.

Several bills were introduced by conservative Tennessee legislators but the vast majority never made it to the floor of the House or Senate for a vote.

Legislation sponsored by Representative Bruce Griffey (R–Paris-District 75):

HB1994 called for the TN Commission of Safety and the TN Commissioner of Human Services to develop and implement a system to identify illegals in TN and relocate them to the home states of President Biden, Vice-President Kamala Harris, Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi and Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer.

HB1994 status: failed in the House Department and Agencies Subcommittee with no Aye votes recorded to move the bill forward.

HB1648 sought to eliminate state education funding for students who are unlawfully present in the United State and would require LEAs and public charter schools that enroll students who are unlawfully present in the United States to bear sole financial responsibility for their education.

HB1648 status: failed in the House K-12 Subcommittee with three Republican legislators helping put an end to it with ‘No’ votes from Representatives Kirk Haston, Mark White and Chris Hurt. 

HB1636 sought to require most employers (having employees of six or more) to utilize an e-verification program for hiring, remove immunity for an employer’s reliance on other forms of verification and prescribed fines for those employers found not to be in compliance.

HB1636 status: deferred to ‘summer study’ in the House Banking and Consumer Affairs Subcommittee in favor or weak e-verify bill that made little change to the current e-verify procedures in the state.

Legislation Sponsored By Other Lawmakers

Representative Dennis Powers (R-Jacksboro-District 36):

HB2222 would have given local law enforcement the authority to enforce federal law and arrest anyone transporting, harboring or facilitating the transport of illegal aliens into Tennessee.

HB2222 status: companion bill SB2264 failed in the Senate Judiciary Committee with three Republican legislators helping put an end to it with ‘No’ votes from Senators Todd Gardenhire, John Stevens and Mike Bell.

Representative Chris Todd (R-Madison County-District 73):

HB2203 seeks to prohibit foreign nationals, corporations, and interest groups from interfering with state and local governmental affairs by financing certain political agendas, preferences, and activities that do not involve the election of an individual to a public office. 

HB2203 status: HB2203 passed the House on March 14th, but the Senate version of the bill (SB2643) hasn’t moved since March 23rd when action was deferred in the Senate State and Local Government Committee.

Representative John Crawford (R-Bristol/Kingsport-District 1):

HB2128 expressly prohibits non-US citizens from voting in federal, state, or local elections in this state. It also prohibits local governments from granting non-citizens the right to vote in local elections. Additionally, it prescribes other mechanisms for ensuring the integrity of elections in this state.

HB2128 status: HB2128 and Senate Bill 2245, passed the House and Senate respectively and were transmitted to Governor Lee for action on April 19th.  Upon publication of this article, Lee has yet to sign the legislation.

Senator Janice Bowling (R-Tullahoma-District 16):

SB2471, while not specifically about illegal immigration, sought to create a committee to review federal actions affecting Tennessee and report their finding to the General Assembly where a vote could be taken to determine if the federal action has legal effect and is to be recognized under state law. 

Had the bill passed and the General Assembly voted in the affirmative that State’s Rights override Federal Overreach in a particular instance, Tennessee could have practiced the right afforded in the Constitution of defending against foreign invasion and thereby taken the necessary steps to stop illegals from entering into and residing in the State.  

SB2471 status: companion bill HB2574 was taken off notice in House State Government Committee after the Senate Government Operations Committee “General subbed” it, meaning they had no intention of proceeding with the legislation this term.

About the Author: Jason Vaughn, Media Coordinator for The Tennessee Conservative  ~ Jason previously worked for a legacy publishing company based in Crossville, TN in a variety of roles through his career.  Most recently, he served as Deputy Director for their flagship publication. Prior, he was a freelance journalist writing articles that appeared in the Herald Citizen, the Crossville Chronicle and The Oracle among others.  He graduated from Tennessee Technological University with a Bachelor’s in English-Journalism, with minors in Broadcast Journalism and History.  Contact Jason at

7 thoughts on “Governor Lee Signs Bipartisan Bill Opening Door For Non-U.S. Citizens To Receive Professional Licenses In TN

  • April 28, 2022 at 7:28 pm

    I was against this; however, he didn’t ask me, guess I’ll let him know how I feel at the ballot box.

  • April 28, 2022 at 7:38 pm

    What a slap in the face for all hard working Americans. I will make my opinion heard at the Ballot Box. Lee you should be ashamed of yourself.

  • April 28, 2022 at 10:31 pm

    Lee’s RINO trash as are about half the “Republican” legislators.

  • April 29, 2022 at 11:42 am

    I agree with all the above comments. Why incentivize illegal immigration by letting them obtain a professional license. This will only bring more illegals to Tennessee. I for one am so tired of these rinos working for everybody except those that elected them. It is time for us Conservatives to do a better job of vetting politicians that are running as conservatives. So we don’t end up what we have now in office. They are despicable politicians making decisions on our behalf. We need to wake up or they are going to change Tennessee from red to blue. Look at all the major cities like Nashville, Memphis, Knoxville and the rest.
    In God we trust not government or man.

  • April 29, 2022 at 11:49 am

    I agree with all the above statements. My original comment was moderated as usual on this site. So much for conservative free speech. Unbelievable!
    In God we trust not government or man. Have a blessed day. If I can still say this!

  • April 29, 2022 at 1:00 pm

    Bill Lee and the Biden RINOs strike again. We have to get rid of the Chamber of Commerce prostitutes in our legislature that care more about cheap labor for business than they do the citizens they are supposed to represent.

  • April 29, 2022 at 2:28 pm

    RINO’s? They are DEMOCRATS! To many voters have been deceived by these wolves in sheep’s clothing. Tennesseans need to wake up and really question who our representatives work for, us or the money men.


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