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Politics

Governor Haslam confident Tenn. immigrant sentencing law constitutional

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State of Tennessee
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NASHVILLE, Tenn. (AP) — Gov. Bill Haslam says his administration's legal team is very confident about the constitutionality of a new law that lets judges toughen sentences for defendants in the country illegally at the time of their crimes.

The Republican governor on Tuesday stressed that the law says judges may consider the sentencing enhancement, but they don't have to apply it.

On Friday, Haslam signed the legislation sponsored by Republican Rep. Ron Gant of Rossville and Senate Majority Leader Mark Norris of Collierville.

The National Immigration Law Center and Tennessee Immigrant and Refugee Rights Coalition have said the law is unconstitutional. They say it effectively criminalizes someone for being in the U.S. without authorization if that person commits a state offense, including minor misdemeanors.