LENOIR CITY (WATE) - Nine
Tennessee lawmakers will travel to Arizona on Friday to show
their support for Arizona's controversial immigration law.
The group will present a
copy of a resolution passed by the Tennessee General Assembly
earlier this year that praises Arizona lawmakers for enacting
The Arizona law is now
under appeal after a federal judge's order Wednesday put several
key parts of the law on hold.
The sections under the
injunction include a requirement for immigrants to carry their
Another provision of the
law on hold calls for law officers to check on a person's
immigration status when enforcing other laws.
Less contentious parts of
the law were allowed to take effect Thursday.
State Rep. Jimmy Matlock
(R-Lenoir City) is one of the lawmakers planning to make the
trip to Arizona.
Matlock says his district
has seen a large increase in its Latino population, but
immigration reform is vital for all of Tennessee.
"We believe in Tennessee, I
think, the polls show overwhelmingly that the law has to be
enforced," said Matlock.
Matlock says the federal
government is not doing its job of hammering down a rule already
on the books.
"The federal government is
picking what they want to enforce," he said. "That should scare
On their trip to
Arizona the lawmakers want to brainstorm the best immigration
bill for Tennessee that could pass a legal test.
"We hope to mirror
[Arizona's law] asking people for proof of status once they are
in the act or being accused of the act," said Matlock.
Opponents of Arizona's law
from across the country say they are convinced the kind of
questioning officers are required to make could lead to racial
"We would never go
the profiling route and that's something I would support," said
The Hispanic Chamber of
Commerce of East Tennessee emphasized Thursday that immigration
reform is needed, but warned against radical and drastic
The group says Tennessee's
immigration issues are different from Arizona's. Right now, it
says, lawmakers should be focused on the economy.
State Sen. Eric Stewart
(D-Belvidere) had harsher words for the lawmakers headed to
Republicans think political junkets to Arizona are more
important than unemployment in their own districts," Stewart
said. "I get angry when lawmakers take the people they represent
for fools and just downright lie to them about the facts. Make
no mistake this trip is all about politics and pandering. The
resolution commends Arizona's immigration law, but does
absolutely nothing to address Tennessee's illegal immigration
Matlock says he and others
are working hard to find the best solution to Tennessee's
immigration problem. He believes it's a pressing problem that
needs to be addressed sooner, rather than later.
Matlock, delegation head to
AZ on "Praising Arizona" mission
WBIR.com-A group of
legislators expect to
leave Friday on a fact finding and proposal praising mission
delegation of nine Tennessee House Republicans includes
Lenoir City's Jimmy Matlock.
2006, when I ran for this position with the state, I heard
about this constantly, here in
County where we are
and in Lenoir City where I live," Matlock said.
Soon after being elected, a poll of Matlock's constituents
found 89% wanted changes to the way immigration laws work in
"The federal government already had the law on the books,
they know what they wanted they just didn't enforce it,"
Friday, the Tennessee delegation hopes to land in
where they'll present
Governor Jan Brewer with a resolution praising Arizona's
illegal immigration bill.
lawmakers are paying for the trip out of their own pockets,
no taxpayer money will be used.
want that too, we want that same thing," Matlock said.
That resolution passed the Tennessee House of
Representatives, but did not get Tennessee Governor Phil
Bredesen's signature. Bredesen told several media sources
he did not see the point in signing it.
Matlock says they're also hoping to find out what parts of
the Arizona law they can bring back and consider in
Nashville next legislative session.
Monroe County and Loudon County Representative expects a
similar bill to become law next year.
"We'll have a bill introduced on the first day, first day,"
Matlock said. "The people speak and we respond and on this
issue, I think it'll be overwhelming."
Critics of the law have called it racist, profiling, and
possibly damaging to the state's economy.
Many feared tourists would shy away from Tennessee if the
state took a stance similar to Arizona.
However, Matlock believes those arguments are an attempt to
blur the issue and says so far, Arizona hasn't seen much of
a drop-off in tourism as they work to enforce the law.
say that we don't know the difference between legal and
illegal is completely inaccurate and I think the people that
I serve in Monroe and Loudon Counties can discern very
quickly right is right and wrong is wrong, there shouldn't
be a blur," Matlock said.