Friday, June 2, 2006

Status quo emerges from Tennessee legislative session

The good news for expatriates in Tennessee is that state law is not going to be any more exclusionary than it already is. According to this article in the Nashville City Paper, of 19 bills that were submitted in 2006 but opposed by the Tennessee Immigrant and Refugee Rights Coalition, only 1 passed, and it was targeted at employers and not the direct exclusion of foreigners. This leaves the state law status quo mostly unchanged, indicating a legislative effort to resist the weaponization of immigration law into a wedge issue in 2006 (story here). To the extent that a wedge was attempted, businesses were united in their opposition, according to this article in the Tennessean.

The bad news is that the status quo in state law had already become increasingly exclusionary before this year's legislative session. For example, since 2004, all non-permanent immigrants in Tennessee (students, temporary business travelers, undocumented workers and their families) have been given a "Certificate of Driving" instead of a full-fledged Tennessee drivers license (story here). And in February 2006 the Department of Safety suspended the issuance of even the Certificate of Driving to undocumented immigrants, effectively illegalizing the act of driving itself for that segment of the population and cutting off their access to automobile liability insurance (story here).

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