Seeking to Understand the Politics Of Immigration in Tennessee
AbstractThis article analyzes state legislative politics related to immigration from 2001 to 2011 in Tennessee, a "new destination" for Mexican and other Latino migrants as well as refugees from Africa and the Middle East. Although the Tennessee Immigrant and Refugee Rights Coalition endeavored to influence policy-making, legislators have passed 13 exclusionary laws that increased internal enforcement and criminal penalties for "illegals," constructed as undeserving, rather than contributing members of society. Also passed were laws restricting "legal" migrants. A small group of white legislators proposed many of the bills. However, half of the senators and one-third of the representatives sponsored at least one bill. Tennessee and other states are setting precedents that will make it difficult to achieve a path to legalization for the "low-skilled" "flexible" workers and their families now living in the United States. Migrants and their allies will need to continue working on shifting the discourse that justifies punitive policies.
Copyright (c) 2015 De Ann Pendry
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