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What did Nashville learn from this month's immigration debate?


NASHVILLE, Tenn. (WMOT)  --  Metro Council member Bob Mendes on Wednesday withdrew his controversial proposed immigration ordinance. The measure would have restricted Nashville’s cooperation with federal immigration officials to only those enforcement actions required by law.

WMOT News asked the councilman to share with us some takeaways from the sometimes rancorous debate. His first thought? At 12 percent of the city’s population -- and growing -- Metro’s immigrant community is too large to simply ignore.

“The immigrant community is an important part of our economy, it’s an important part of our school system, it’s an important part of all our public safety issues, and I think we ignore their needs to the peril of Nashville.”

Mendes says his hope was that Nashvillians could have a conversation about an issue important to Nashvillians, but the exchange quickly devolved into something else.

“a proxy for our broader political animosity that’s going on between the left and the right.”

Mendes says right now many in the mid-state's immigrant community are hiding from local government, fearful that any contact could lead to a family member being deported. He believes that could compromise safety, health and the local economy.

“Local governments need to do everything that they’re supposed to do to follow the law, but beyond that we all have an interest in making sure that people aren’t living in the shadows and making us all less safe in the process.”

Use the link below to listen to WMOT's full conversation with Councilman Mendes.