A group of Republican legislators held a press conference Tuesday to announce plans for immigration reform.
Rep. Bo Watson said, "Tennessee lags behind other states in immigration law reform after Democrats in the House of Representatives rejected a number of common-sense reform measures put forth by Republicans during the 2006 legislative session."
Reps. Watson (R-Hixson), Gerald McCormick (R-Chattanooga ), Eric Swafford (R-Crossville), Eric Watson (R-Cleveland) and Republican candidates Richard Floyd, District 27 and Jim Cobb, District 31, said they plan to present positive legislative ideas to illegal immigration and announced they will join other Republicans in holding a series of public meetings across the state to gather public input on the issue.
The event kicked off the Republicans’ “Tennessee Trust” initiative to outline reform measures on a number of key issues expected to be before the 105th Tennessee General Assembly, with the first phase focused on the state’s immigration laws. The lawmakers said they will work to reform the state’s immigration laws when elected in January.
“We are ready to lead this state forward and have been out front on issues like immigration reform during the past legislative session,” said Rep. Watson. “However, these reforms have been blocked by the Democrat majority in the House of Representatives. State Democrats have had a stronghold on Tennessee’s House of Representatives for too long. Today, we ask the people of this state to join with us to address this challenging problem.”
Mr. Floyd said, “Every state is a border state and every town is a border town. We cannot ignore the fact that immigration is not just a national problem when so many policy decisions effecting the issue are made at the state level, like proof of citizenship before voting, requirements that only citizens should be able to receive public benefits, or proof of legal residency before a driver’s license can be issued. Other states have made great strides in policy reform on these matters, but when Republicans have put forth bills or amendments to address illegal immigration, House Democrats in Nashville have shot them down.”
Rep. Watson said Republicans will continue to push for this legislation next year, along with other reform measures on this and other key issues. The Republicans are planning to unveil the remainder of the Tennessee Trust initiatives over the next several weeks. "There was a time in the General Assembly when Republicans were happy just to be included. That was then...this is now. We are ready to lead. We are ready to govern," Rep. Watson said.
“Tennesseans want and deserve to have their voices heard on immigration issues,” said Jim Cobb, Republican candidate. “There are many reforms that have been implemented in other states that we have looked at, including major reforms in Georgia and Colorado. Republicans will continue to push for immigration reform legislation next year.”