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Sep 3, 2015

Tennessee professes to be a business-friendly bastion.  But like many states, business-friendly advocates in Tennessee also support laws that aim to curtail the rights of immigrants.

A law passed in 2015 raises the bar for immigrants seeking to obtain beer permits, which are necessary to open markets in Tennessee.  The new law requires:

After July 1, 2015, a city or county shall not issue a permit under this chapter unless the applicant has been a citizen or lawful resident of the United States for not less than one (1) year immediately preceding the date upon which the application is made to the city or county.

Previously, a handful of beer boards required proof of rights to work in the U.S, like a green card, before issuing a beer permit.  For example, Nashville has required documentation for a couple of years.

The new state law requires a one year waiting period - meaning that someone that legally immigrates to the U.S. cannot qualify for a beer permit for one year after being granted permission to work in the U.S.  Based on our informal experience, the vast majority of non-chain markets are independently owned by immigrants.

There may be U.S. constitutional issues with the new state residency law and waiting period, but that will require expensive litigation and several years to resolve.  We see the new law unfairly impacting immigrants for years to come,and although it may ultimately be declared unconstitutional, relief is not going to be snappy.

Rock icon Led Zeppelin sang about immigration in a very different time and about a very different group of immigrants:

We come from the land of the ice and snow,
From the midnight sun where the hot springs blow.
The hammer of the gods
Will drive our ships to new lands,
To fight the horde, singing and crying:

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