A resolution in Tennessee honoring Arizona for its controversial new immigration law is on the governor's desk.
Video: GOP Gov Candidates Concur On Illegal Immigration | Survey
Tuesday, Gov. Phil Bredesen said he would look at it, but called the bill meaningless and said he wished state lawmakers had spent more time on the budget and becoming better leaders.
"I'd love Tennessee to get in the habit of being in leadership positions," said Bredesen. "If they have some better idea about how to handle this, legislators should take that up and not spend their time congratulating other states."
The Arizona law requires authorities to question people about their immigration status if there's reason to suspect they're in the country illegally. It has created controversy around the country and led businesses and some states to boycott Arizona.
Many of Tennessee's gubernatorial candidates agree the federal government isn't doing a good job in this area of immigration.
"I would be an Arizona state in a New York second, because all Arizona is doing is allowing their state to enforce existing federal law, and we've got to do that in Tennessee," said Rep. Zach Wamp.
Lawmakers want to pass legislation next year emulating Arizona's immigration law, but not everyone thinks that's the best course of action.
"I really think the immigration issue is a federal issue, and what we need is a much better federal policy to protect our borders," said Mike McWherter. "It's got to be solved on a federal level."
Knoxville Mayor Bill Haslam said that while Arizona's law works for that state, Tennessee needs to craft is own solution.
"In Arizona, being where they are, (the state) has a very significant problem. In Tennessee, we do too, but we need to have our own solution, and our solution should start with looking at employers," he said.
Haslam and the other Republican candidates all support using what's called E-Verify. It allows employers to check federal social security data to make sure employees are who they say they are.
But Lt. Gov. Ron Ramsey said that proposal and others have failed in the General Assembly, and he blames the House.
"We need some help in the state House," he said. "We've passed bills this year that say, 'How common sense is this, that you can prove you are a citizen of the United States before you can vote in the state?' Passed in the state Senate, failed the House."
Reporter Cara Kumari contributed to this story.