Tennessee’s anti-sanctuary city law goes into effect on New Year’s Day

A new Tennessee law is set to go into effect on January 1, which will end local governments’ access to state economic development funds if they do not comply with a ban on “sanctuary” policies.

The term “sanctuary city” does not have any official legal meaning. It refers to local jurisdictions that do not obey federal detainer immigration requests and other efforts to locate and deport undocumented immigrants. Since the Trump administration began shifting focus to sanctuary cities, forcing them to comply with such requests, many states have introduced policies barring local law enforcement from cooperating with federal immigration officials altogether.

The Tennessee law takes aim at those policies, which restrict compliance with detainers and necessitate federal officials get a warrant or show probable cause before local governments comply. In May, Gov. Bill Haslam (R) said the bill “stirred up fear” that was “unfounded” but did not stop it from becoming law.