Reported By Cara Kumari
NASHVILLE, Tenn.Some state lawmakers want to pass an immigration law similar to the one that's causing controversy in Arizona, but immigrant rights activists have said it invites racial profiling.
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Arizona's law requiring police to ask the immigration status of anyone they stop, detain or arrest has seen its share of controversy.
"The states are saying, 'We can no longer afford, especially in these hard economic times, to do what we're doing in providing things when we should be taking care of our own citizens,'" said Sen. Bill Ketron.
Ketron said he's received a lot of calls from constituents wanting Arizona's law in Tennessee. He said he wants to make sure people must provide documentation before receiving any public benefits and require police to check for documentation of people they stop.
"Do we need to bring an Arizona problem to Tennessee? Is that a wise thing to do?" said immigration attorney Mario Ramos.
He said state lawmakers should be worried about the budget crisis and recovering from the flood instead. Based on the backlash in Arizona, he said, it isn't good to do something that could hurt Tennessee's tourism industry.
"It's really a shame our politicians are engaged in what we would call race baiting as opposed to doing sound management to Tennessee," said Ramos.
Ketron said he doubts there would be any boycotts of Tennessee if this law passes; he said this is about safety.
"Some people talk about a backlash of boycotting. That's not a concern of mine," Ketron said. "My concern is the people of Tennessee."
Ketron was hoping to find a way to slip the proposal in before the end of session this year.
However, he doesn't think there's a way to get it done in time, so he said he will have to wait until next session starts in January.
Meanwhile, some lawmakers in the House have introduced a resolution commending Arizona and its public officials on passing their immigration legislation.
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