Nashville passes law restricting use of license plate reader data for immigration enforcement

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Nashville's council passed an ordinance Tuesday restricting Metro's ability to use license plate readers to assist with immigration enforcement.

The ordinance bars data from license plate readers, or LPRs, from being used to assist federal officials with identifying, apprehending, detaining or removing people for purposes of immigration enforcement.

Metro could still use LPR data to verify or report a person's immigration status, as required by state and federal law.

Metro Council voted 31 to one to approve the ordinance. Council member Robert Swope voted against the ordinance.

The council approved a six-month pilot of LPR technology earlier this year. The pilot, which has yet to begin, will allow Nashville police to compare images of license plates captured by LPRs against the plate numbers of stolen vehicles and vehicles flagged for potential connections with violent crime, felony offenses, reckless driving or missing persons cases.

The ordinance passed Tuesday will not interfere with those allowed uses.

At-large Council member Bob Mendes introduced the bill in an effort to codify a statement issued by Metro Police Chief John Drake and Department of Transportation Director Diana Alarcon earlier this year, stating that "LPR information will NOT be shared with ICE for any type of immigration enforcement."

Mendes' bill was deferred for several weeks as he worked with legal counsel and Metro administration to ensure the ordinance would not violate state law against "sanctuary policies" that limit local authorities' ability to cooperate with federal officials for immigration enforcement purposes.

Special Counsel and Director of the Metro Council Office Margaret Darby said the state is "not likely to determine that this is a sanctuary policy" in its current form.

Cassandra Stephenson covers Metro government for The Tennessean. Reach her at ckstephenson@tennessean.com. Follow Cassandra on Twitter at @CStephenson731.

This article originally appeared on Nashville Tennessean: Nashville passes law restricting LPR data for immigration enforcement