KNOXVILLE, Tenn. (WVLT)-- Nine Tennessee lawmakers are heading to Arizona Friday morning in support of their new immigration law. Parts of that law went into effect today bringing people out nationwide to rally for and against it. Tennessee legislators say the controversy surrounding it hasn't stopped them from wanting a similar law here at home.
"We support what Arizona is attempting to do which in a nutshell is respect the rule of law, and in this particular case to allow the state to simply enforce what the federal government has refused to do," said State Representative Jimmy Matlock of Lenoir City.
Matlock and eight other lawmakers, including Rep. Joe Carr and Senator Jim Tracy, will be traveling to Phoenix Friday morning, and they're taking with them a resolution they passed earlier this year to show their support for Arizona's tough immigration law.
"We're carrying it with us tomorrow and we're going to present it to Governor Jan Brewer and the legislature," Matlock said. "We have an opportunity to visit with them a couple of hours."
Their visit isn't just to deliver a resolution though, Matlock said it's to modify their own version of Arizona's immigration bill; one that lawmakers will reportedly introduce here next year.
Opponents of the new legislation said this is a federal issue. In a statement today, Mike McWherter, Democratic nominee for governor said the lawmakers' visit to Arizona is nothing but a publicity stunt.
"These media hungry legislators should focus more on solutions and less on photo-ops," he said."
But Matlock said Arizona's simply attempting to enforce what the federal government hasn't been able to do. And they plan to do the same.
"I'm not in favor of loading these folks up on a car and ship them across the line," Matlock said. "There is a way to come to this country legally. There is a method people from other countries have done. These are some wonderful (hard-working) individuals but they're breaking the law."