Mayor Karl Dean is coming out strongly against a proposed immigration bill that state lawmakers are discussing for the next legislation session.
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At a meeting Monday, Dean asked politicians not to pass a state immigration law similar to the one in Arizona, saying that it could hurt Nashville's economy.
"I'm asking them, as the mayor of Nashville, not to do anything that will put our city and our state at a competitive disadvantage," said Dean. "Being a diverse city, a city that is perceived as a friendly, welcoming place, is key to business recruitment."
Lawmakers plan to file a series of bills early next year dealing with illegal immigration, including a version of the controversial Arizona law that makes illegal immigration a state crime and allows police officers in the field to check a person's legal residency.
Arizona has lost more than $140 million in convention and tourism business as a result of the new law.
We need to be serious right now about jobs and prosperity and education. And we can't do that if we tie our hands by creating a global reputation as an unwelcoming and unfriendly state," said Dean.
The governor shares similar concerns.
"I'm concerned in regard to tourism and the general perception of the business climate here," said Gov. Phil Bredesen.
Both immigration and tourism groups have expressed extreme concern with the proposal. But final decision will be made by the people in this building and Republican state senator Bill Ketron thinks he has the votes in both chambers.
"I respect Mayor Dean and his feelings about that, but I think this is what the people of Tennessee want," said Ketron.
Ketron said Dean should be concerned with the amount of taxpayer dollars spent and lost because of illegal immigration. Ketron feels the majority of Tennesseans want this to become law.
"If people think we're unfriendly then. I think people will move here because we are doing the right things," said Ketron.
Ketron said the bill is in the drafting stage and has to go through legal review to make sure it adheres to the Tennessee Constitution. He hopes to have it ready in the next week or so.