Tennessee’s two U.S. Senators, Lamar Alexander and Bob Corker each released a statement opposing the administration’s zero-tolerance immigration policy including separating children traveling with adult illegal border crossers.
The law requiring the separation of children from the adults illegally crossing the border and who are being detained, was signed by President George W. Bush in 2008.
Yesterday, President Trump signed an Executive Order allowing illegal alien adults and any children they bring across the border, to stay together in detention pending a determination of their illegal border crossing.
While Corker limited his remarks to how adults traveling with children should be dealt with when apprehended at the border, Alexander’s statement goes much further, suggesting that legislation to fix the current crisis should include some type of amnesty for illegal aliens already present in the U.S.:
Illegal immigration is against the law but new enforcement policies have resulted in hundreds of children being separated from their parents. The administration should end that new policy immediately while Congress works with the president on a bipartisan immigration solution that secures the border, provides a status for those already here and prevents a humanitarian crisis at the border.
Both Alexander and Corker voted to pass the 2013 “Gang of Eight” comprehensive immigration bill that rewarded illegal aliens with a path to citizenship if they paid fines and met other requirements. Supporters of the “Gang of Eight” bill claimed this did not constitute amnesty.
During his first campaign for governor, Haslam repeatedly raised the issue of illegal immigration and how he, as governor, would work to insulate Tennessee from the negative fiscal and economic effects of illegal immigration and from becoming a magnet for illegal aliens.
After he was elected, however, Haslam began to incrementally retreat from considering illegal immigration a negative fiscal and/or employment issue going so far as to support a bill that proposed to open Tennessee’s law on public benefits in order to reward illegal alien students with in-state tuition. Haslam also declined to support the recent anti-sanctuary city bill letting it pass into law without his signature.
The Governor has also voiced support for what was believed to be a reference to the “Gang of Eight” amnesty bill citing the “economic benefits of sensible immigration reform” during a 2013 talk to the Latin American Chamber of Commerce. He gave his remarks “as part of Tennessee’s Partnership for a New American Economy.
The Partnership for a New American Economy is the big-business-cheap-labor lobby that endorses amnesty for illegal aliens and in Tennessee, where it estimates there are 129,000 “undocumented,” the PNAE says they are “a small but critical role in the workforce.”
More recently, however, he has downplayed gubernatorial candidates raising issues related to illegal immigration saying they should pay more attention to education and attracting jobs to the state, two issues specifically that are riddled with the impact from illegal immigration.
On the education front Haslam publicly endorsed the most recent in-state tuition bill that would have changed Tennessee’s law on access to state and public benefits in order to accommodate illegal aliens living in Tennessee. Had this bill passed, the in-state tuition benefit would also be available to the 1,294 unaccompanied alien children (UAC) whose arrival in Tennessee Haslam questioned in a 2014 letter addressed to President Obama.
There is no indication that any answer was received or that any further action taken by the Haslam administration.
What is known, however, is that the border surges from 2014 through April of this year have brought 5,147 unaccompanied illegal alien children to Tennessee contributing to a state expenditure of over $300 million dollars in education costs for English Language Learners. This does not include the required local share expenditures for these services.
Gubernatorial candidate Randy Boyd’s education non-profit “Complete Tennessee” partners with the “Tennessee Education Equity Coalition” whose position is that students who arrived in Tennessee in violation of U.S. immigration law deserve “educational equity:” The Coalition has appealed to Sens. Corker and Alexander to continue Obama’s administrative bypass of Congress that unilaterally created the questionable DACA program.
The Coalition’s English Learner initiative is working to organize in different parts of the state to expand advocacy for more resources.
Haslam’s 2014 letter to Obama asked questions hinting at concerns that child trafficking might be occurring with the large numbers crossing the border illegally. To this end, Haslam asked, “1. [w]hat was the process for determining that these children should be released to sponsors in Tennessee? 2. [h]ow did you locate and evaluate the fitness of their sponsors?”
CNSNews reported that according to Customs and Border Protection, “[i]n the first five months of fiscal year ‘18, CBP saw a 315 percent increase in individuals using children to pose as family units to gain entry into the country compared to fiscal year ’17.”
In 2013, sixteen year old Edwin Mejia, a UAC from Honduras, was transported to Tennessee and released into the custody of his brother, an illegal alien living north of Nashville in Madison, Tennessee. The following year the two brothers moved to Nebraska where Edwin struck and killed 21-year old Sarah Root while he was drunk and street racing in his truck. Root had just graduated from college. Mejia posted bond and left town.
Yesterday during a meeting with President Trump, Sen. Alexander said he wants to work with the President to address the immigration issues that has “bedeviled us for 40 years”:
a year ago I think I suggested to you that immigration which has bedeviled us for 40 years as you’ve said I believe you can you’re the President who can help us solve the immigration problem. With your leadership you may be able to do for immigration what Nixon did for China and Reagan did for the Soviet Union and a lot of us would like to work with you on that.
Corker and Alexander have been less than supportive of President Trump’s “America First” agenda. And Haslam was the only elected official in Tennessee to openly reject Trump before the election even though he was the duly nominated GOP presidential candidate.