Both Nashville and the state of Tennessee have been sharing the names and addresses of people who test positive for the coronavirus with law enforcement. That worries immigrant rights advocates.
The Tennessee Immigrant and Refugee Rights Coalition, or TIRRC, has been helping distribute information about how and where to get tested for the virus. Policy director Lisa Sherman-Nikolaus says they have “deep concerns” about their clients’ privacy.
“We do not want people to go without testing and treatment in the era of COVID,” she says, “but we also want our public health officials to understand the consequences that this has for work within the immigrant community.”
Sherman-Nikolaus says her organization has received assurances from state and Nashville health departments that no testing sites will ask for immigration status. But she says information sharing could erode trust between government agencies and communities of color, including immigrants.
State and city officials say the information is meant to help protect police officers who may be have to go into the homes of people infected with the coronavirus.
Black lawmakers have also asked health officials and Gov. Bill Lee to stop releasing coronavirus testing data and personal information to police. Members of the Black Caucus of State Legislators say the practice could create a “chilling effect” and deter communities with a mistrust of the police from getting tested.
Lee says the information is meant to help protect police officers who may respond to the home of somebody who is infected. According to a press release from the Black Caucus, Lee has pledged to work with lawmakers on ways to adjust the practice.