Nashville’s Metro Council is taking a symbolic stand on behalf of the city’s undocumented immigrants.
On Tuesday, the council approved a letter to Congress and the president that urges comprehensive immigration reform, to “give Nashville’s qualified undocumented neighbors a path to citizenship and an opportunity to fully participate in the life of our community without fear.”
Councilman Bob Nash, who served 33 years with Metro Police, spearheaded the resolution. He says it’s usually not up to a city council to comment on federal matters — but that immigration enforcement failures strain the city.
“And though we might just be a lone voice in the wilderness at the moment, I hope others will join us and that we can become a chorus of voices that will be heard in the halls of Congress and at the White House,” Nash said. “The status quo is no longer acceptable.”
Nash said the city suffers when residents are afraid to report crimes or wage theft, or to fully participate in the schools.
In all, 34 council members signed onto the letter, which says that most of the city’s undocumented immigrants are hard-working and family-oriented people.
In addition to a path to citizenship, the council suggests immigration reforms could allow enforcement agents to stop “diverting resources that could be better used securing our borders and apprehending those undocumented persons who truly pose a danger.”
The resolution also provides a rare estimate of the undocumented population, pegging it at 31,000 in Nashville. It suggests that 7,000 are under age 25, with many attending city schools.
“[Immigrants] have built this city. They go to school with many of your children. They are your neighbors,” said Councilwoman Sandra Sepulveda. “It’s traumatizing for families that are being separated.”