- Associated Press - Wednesday, June 28, 2017

NASHVILLE, Tenn. (AP) - The sponsor of an effort to protect immigrants is withdrawing his proposal to make Nashville something like a “sanctuary city,” citing the city attorney’s “damaging” legal opinion that the requirements couldn’t be forced on the elected sheriff.

Nashville Councilman Bob Mendes also pointed to opposition from outside the county and from Republicans eyeing bids for governor who have starkly opposed the measure, which had been up for a final vote on July 6. He said they used it as a “political football.”

“It’s almost become a race to the bottom to see who can criticize Nashville more, who can criticize immigrants more,” Mendes said at a news conference on Wednesday.

The legal opinion Tuesday by Metro Nashville Director of Law Jon Cooper said the council can’t tell the constitutionally elected sheriff how to run the jails - and that includes imposing limits on how he shares immigration information with the federal government. Given the opinion, Mayor Megan Barry also urged the council to reconsider.

The proposal said that unless required under federal or state law or court order, Nashville couldn’t use its resources to help enforce federal immigration laws, respond to U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement requests or review someone’s citizenship. Immigration-related detention requests, it said, would be honored only under court-approved warrants.

Mendes said he also will withdraw a related proposal seeking to bar immigrant detention at Davidson County jail, which Sheriff Daron Hall runs, by terminating and renegotiating its contract with the U.S. Marshals Service.

The sheriff said the legal opinion validates his concern that the ordinance was an overreach.

Mendes said the proposal wouldn’t qualify Nashville as a sanctuary city under the U.S. Department of Justice, and would work within the confines of state and federal law. But he said he can’t amend either proposal before the final vote, so will have to withdraw them instead.

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Information from: The Tennessean, https://www.tennessean.com

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