***Update 3/16/22: HB1994 was on the special calendar of the Departments and Agencies Subcommittee on Tuesday, March 15th. With no additional discussion the decision was made to send the legislation to the clerk’s office without any objections.
Image Credit: capitol.tn.gov
The Tennessee Conservative [By Jason Vaughn] –
Representative Bruce Griffey’s bill in the General Assembly to relocate illegal immigrants residing in Tennessee to the home states of President Biden, Vice-President Kamala Harris, Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi and Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer failed in the House Department and Agencies Subcommittee on Tuesday but may have another chance next week.
Griffey’s House Bill 1994 (HB1994), in summary, would require the Commission of Safety, in collaboration with the Commissioner of Human Services, to implement a system for the relocation of illegal aliens who arrive in Tennessee to other locations.
In speaking of his bill in front of the subcommittee on March 8th, Griffey stated that Tennessee does have the right to implement and enforce such legislation, citing a 2022 opinion issued by Arizona Attorney General, Mark Brnovich.
The opinion indicated that the state’s self-defense clause in the U.S. Constitution, Article 1: Section 10, provides that a state may defend itself when it has been invaded or is in imminent danger…and the state does not need the consent of Congress to do so.
The invasion clause of the U.S. Constitution, Article 4: Section 4, provides that the United States shall protect each state in the union against invasion.
Addressing the committee, Griffey said, “I know the Department of Safety feels like there are concerns or problems with this bill legally and Constitutionally, I submit those can be challenged in court if they want to. Attorney General Mark Brnovich from Arizona has indicated that the state retains the powers to take these actions if there is an active invasion going on and I think we’ve seen from the actions of the current administration in D.C. that there is an ongoing invasion at our Southern border and Tennessee has the obligation and the right to act if it so chooses.”
Representative Bill Beck, a Nashville Democrat, said “This is such a mean-spirited and ugly bill. You’re asking our Department of Safety to hunt people down like dogs. This is America for God’s sake…I know that you’re gonna be running for office but this is obscene and I would be embarrassed if I was you to bring such a mean-spirited resolution.”
Griffey blasted back, “I’d be embarrassed to advocate for a position that allows lawlessness to continue in the United States and take advantage of the citizens of the state of Tennessee. You’re obligated by oath to defend their rights.”
The committee then went out of session to hear testimony from a representative of the Tennessee Department of Safety and Homeland Security.
Elizabeth Stroecker, Director of Legislative affairs for the Tennessee Department of Safety and Homeland Security, said “We are philosophically opposed to this bill. It is not the responsibility of the Department of Safety to try to locate people who are in the country unlawfully. We actually are expressly prohibited from doing that through federal jurisdiction and authority. Immigration laws are specifically for federal jurisdiction. We can only do that if we are working in conjunction with the feds. Additionally, entering the country illegally is the criminal act, remaining in the country is not. So there is no situation where we are going to be catching someone coming through the border where we can actually witness the criminal act taking place.”
Stroecker went on to state that removing someone from the country is a civil process and that the Department of Safety doesn’t have any involvement with civil hearings or procedures.
“We feel like this could be considered kidnapping,” Stroecker said and indicated that law enforcement officials would be subject to liability both criminally and civilly for “trying to locate these people that we have no information if someone is in the country lawfully or not.”
Stroecker indicated that a person’s immigration status is handled by the Feds and that the TN Dept of Safety does not have access to that information.
“If we detain someone, we could be detaining them unlawfully, transporting them across state lines which turns into federal kidnapping. We are absolutely not okay with opening ourselves up to that liability when we do not have that authority or jurisdiction,” Stroecker concluded.
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Griffey replied to Stroecker’s testimony by saying, “Respectively, I’ve got a little more faith in the opinion of the Attorney General of the state of Arizona than the Department of Safety on some of these legal issues. This is going to be a Constitutional battle. It’s going to be a court battle and that’s what I think should happen. The Department of Safety’s duty is to do what this body tells them to do. We are a sovereign, the state of Tennessee, and we still retain Constitutional sovereign powers separate and apart from the federal government. We are not a subject of the federal government.”
“If the federal government has failed upon its duty to protect the sovereign states from invasion, the states have a right and an obligation to act if they want to and with that, I move for passage (of the bill),” Griffey concluded.
The vote was taken and no ‘Ayes’ were heard or recorded. Only ‘Nays’ were heard and recorded, and so, the bill failed.
Despite failing in the subcommittee, capitol.tn.gov yesterday states that the bill’s status was “Def. to Special Calendar to be Published with Final Calendar in Departments & Agencies Subcommittee.” During the meeting on March 15th, no additional discussion was made and the bill was sent to the clerk’s office without any objections.
If you would like to contact the Republican members of the subcommittee and ask why they voted No, failed to speak in favor of the bill, you can find their contact information below.
House Department and Agencies Subcommittee – Republican Members
John B Holsclaw, Jr (chair)- firstname.lastname@example.org – (615) 741-7450
Rush Bricken – email@example.com – (615) 741-7448
Dale Carr – firstname.lastname@example.org – (615) 741-5981
Michele Carringer – email@example.com – (615) 741-1721
Curtis Halford – firstname.lastname@example.org – (615) 741-7478
Kelly Keisling – email@example.com – (615) 741-6852
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 news@TennesseeConservativeNews.com