Image Credit: capitol.tn.gov
The Tennessee Conservative [By Adelia Kirchner] –
To many conservatives it looks like Rep. Dale Carr (Sevierville-District 12) is actively working to make Tennessee more appealing to illegal immigrants, by making it easier for employers to replace Tennessee workers with foreign labor.
Rep. Carr introduced House Bill 0004 (HB004) in November of 2022. He has since joined forces with Freshman Democrat Rep. Caleb Hemmer (D-Nashville-District 59) who is now a co-sponsor for the bill.
In the Senate, the legislation has been picked up by Senator Frank Niceley (R-Strawberry Plains-District 8), under Senate bill 0151 (SB0151).
As introduced, this legislation would allow state and local governmental entities to forgo verification of a nonresident alien’s status, so long as the nonresident alien either holds a valid J-1 visa, a valid H-2B visa, or holds a valid visa for participation in an international culinary internship program.
This would defeat the point of established verification measures like the systematic alien verification for entitlements (SAVE) program or the student and exchange visitor information system (SEVIS).
More information on these visa programs and other details of this legislation can be found in The Tennessee Conservative’s initial article on HB0004.
If this bill passes, Tennesseans would likely see a rise in cheap foreign labor which would negatively impact opportunities and wages available to U.S. citizens.
Currently, employers must undergo certain processes in order to employ foreign workers that hold J-1 or H2b visas.
However, this bill would allow employers across the state to hire foreign workers without verifying the legality of their status in some cases.
Instead of providing more opportunities and promoting higher wages for the many U.S. citizens residing in Tennessee, this bill seeks to actively support the importation of foreign laborers, who would take the place of state residents in the workforce.
Tennessee has a large number of lower-income earners who would be greatly impacted by this, as increases in foreign labor tend to specifically affect lower-skilled U.S. citizen workers.
This bill would seem to prioritize helping businesses import temporary foreign labor, over and above the livelihoods of Tennesseans.
Legislation like this also raises concerns regarding national and state security.
With the legislature’s January 31st deadline for new bills swiftly approaching, constituents hoping for legislation that would actually cut down on incentives for illegal immigration in Tennessee may be disappointed.
As of January 12th, 2023, HB0004 has been assigned to the House Departments and Agencies Subcommittee and its corresponding SB0151 is currently awaiting committee assignment in the Senate.
Tennessee residents can make their voice heard by contacting members of the Departments & Agencies Subcommittee listed here:
Rep. John B. Holsclaw (R) – Chair – firstname.lastname@example.org – (615) 741-7450
Rep. Bill Beck (D) – email@example.com – (615) 741-3229
Rep. Rush Bricken (R) – firstname.lastname@example.org – (615) 741-7448
Rep. Miichele Carringer (R) – email@example.com – (615) 741-1721
Rep. Jesse Chism (D) – firstname.lastname@example.org – (615) 741-6954
Rep. Kirk Haston (R) – email@example.com – (615) 741-0750
Rep Kerry Keisling (R) – firstname.lastname@example.org – (615) 741-6852
Rep. Mary Littleton (R) – email@example.com – (615) 741-7477
About the Author: Adelia Kirchner is a Tennessee resident and reporter for the Tennessee Conservative. Currently the host of Subtle Rampage Podcast, she has also worked for the South Dakota State Legislature and interned for Senator Bill Hagerty’s Office in Nashville, Tennessee.