Sunday, April 1, 2012

New angle in six surprise immigration bills - the Volunteer Rally

Photo of Tennessee Capitol by Casey Fleser. Licensed via Creative Commons.
Two Tennessee state legislators have surprised Legislative Plaza this weekend with half a dozen new bills that are already making waves at the Governor's office because they comprise a completely new, state-level immigration platform.

Veteran State Representative Jason Iris (D) and freshman State Senator Mary Jean Crockett (R) joined together on Saturday morning to tape a single page of newly filed, one-line laws to the office door of each one of their colleagues, calling it the "2012 Volunteer Rally." The proposed legislation is as follows:

The 2012 Volunteer Rally
  • Anyone who during their stay in Tennessee has contributed to the building of a a home or other permanent structure, started a business, completed an academic degree, harvested an agricultural crop, or parented a child who has done any of the above, and who has not been held in violation of any local law, shall be considered a friend of Tennessee and is hereby thanked for their work. ("This is ingrate avoidance," said Crockett.)
  • Anyone who is joined by a Tennessean in making a petition to the United States government for lawful immigration status shall be considered a friend of Tennessee. ("When my neighbor stands up for you, that's a good start," according to both sponsors.)
  • During any statewide sales tax holiday, no-questions-asked gun buyback, or similar event, immigration status or lack of a social security number shall not be the basis for denying a Tennessee resident a Tennessee drivers' license. ("Closes the double standard on new beginnings," said Crockett.)
  • No child shall be simultaneously charged with truancy (absence from school) and trespass (presence in school) ("If you chase a child in the front door and then out the back and then in again - you'll look awful ridiculous - and just plain awful," said Iris.)
  • All privileges enjoyed by newly arrived Cubans to Tennessee shall be enjoyed by all men, women, and children in Tennessee. ("We seem to handle the Cubans just fine, even though they can show up without a visa," Iris told
  • Every commercial product or service in Tennessee - from food packaging to office buildings - shall bear an e-Verify seal indicating the portion of the contributing labor whose credentials were checked by the federal government. (Iris and Crockett said, "This has the dual benefit of shining the light on the federal government's presence in the workplace and also on how much of our lives depends on people who aren't being checked.")
The two issued a press release that commemorated the Appalachian Ellis Island bills introduced in the legislature in 2009, and called for immediate passage of the Volunteer Rally.

"It's in our blood as Tennesseans and as people of faith to speak up - and to clean house," the sponsors said. "If there were ever a need for Volunteers to rally, this is it."

If you have read this far, let me remind you it's April Fools' Day. These bills aren't real, unfortunately.

The good news - in real life - is that the Tennessee Immigrant and Refugee Rights Coalition, Conexion Americas, Clergy for Tolerance, and others have been meeting with legislators in 2012, in their own ways as proud Volunteers.  Click on the links in these paragraphs to see what they have been doing.

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