An article titled "Immigrants Feel New Laws Chill" was published in the Times Gazette on Wednesday, March 9th. If you haven't read the article, you can here, http://www.t-g.com/story/1709149.html . The topic of the story was a new law, Public Chapter 1112, which went into effect January 1, 2011. The basis for this law is that when an individual is arrested, booked or retained in a county or municipal jail, the keeper of the jail shall verify the citizenship of the individual.
One important thing to notice is that the law states "individual", it does not single out any nationality or race. If said "individual" cannot prove that he or she is a legal citizen of The United States, then he or she will be reported to the Immigration and Customs Enforcement Detention and Removal Operations (ICE) office. Plain, simple and to the point don't you think? If you are caught breaking the law and cannot prove your legal citizenship in this country, you could be deported.
What I fail to understand is why the group Statewide Organizing for Community eMpowerment (SOCM) has an issue with this. They state that "as of March 1, 2011, that 20 people in Bedford County were being held under an ICE designation compared to only 2 people a year ago." Makes sense considering the law just went into effect at the beginning of this year. I think that translates to, the law is working!
Some local members of SOCM, state that they will lobby against more legislation that they describe as "anti-immigrant bills that weaken Tennessee communities and economy." So does that mean that the members of SOCM consider the Public Chapter 1112 to be anti-immigrant, because after reading this bill it appears it was written to be anti-illegal immigrant bill? The SOCM members go on to say that "they will call on legislators to vote 'no' on immigration bills that prevent the Hispanic population from learning to speak English, hold jobs, protect families and create a sense of community in Tennessee."
Wonder why the SOCM has singled out the Hispanic community in their statement? If you read the Public Chapter 1112, you will notice as I stated earlier that no nationality or race is singled out. The SOCM website claims they are "anti-racist" but yet they make a point to single out Hispanics as if any legislation that is directed at immigration is solely directed at Hispanics. Another issue is they claim there are bills being proposed that prevent Hispanics from learning English? If anyone knows of such bills please let me know, because this is one I would agree should be trashed. As far as other proposed bills that the SOCM claims to prevent Hispanics from holding jobs, protecting families, etc. I question if these bills do indeed contain language to back their claims or maybe do these proposed bills direct attention to "illegal" immigrants as does the Public Chapter 1112.
One local SOCM member and business owner, Antonio Perez stated that "we are clearly seeing an increase in arrest" and "Now, people say, 'I'll just leave rather than wait around to get arrested for nothing," I would say Mr. Perez that if you are seeing an increase in arrest, it is because crime has increased not because of the enactment of Public Chapter 1112, and those you claim say they will leave rather than wait on being arrested, must have a reason to fear being arrested. One might assume that they are here illegally, otherwise why would the Public Chapter 1112 law concern them? This statement is also true for the clients of a local attorney who claim to be "terrified" of the passage of Public Chapter 1112. Those that are terrified of this law are so because of one of two reasons. One they break the law or plan to break the law and risk getting arrested and second they are here illegally. Those are the only logical reasons to be "terrified" of the Public Chapter 1112 law.
If you would like to read the Public Chapter 1112 bill you can here, http://state.tn.us/sos/acts/106/pub/pc1112.pdf . Also if you want to learn more about the SOCM, their website can be found at, http://www.socm.org/