In an interview with The City Paper, Mayor Karl Dean said if State Rep. Mike Turner has “real information” confirming illegal immigrants are working on the construction of the city’s new convention center, then he should present it.
Dean, however, doesn’t believe that’s happened yet.
Turner, who serves as the House Democratic Caucus Chair, has said he plans to file a complaint with the Tennessee Department of Labor that contends Bell/Clark Construction, the contractor for the new $585 million Music City Center, is employing illegal immigrants.
“Clearly he has a responsibility, if he has real information, concrete information, to come forward with it,” Dean said. “He’s a public official, and he should share that with us, so we can take whatever corrective action we need to take if there is indeed some specific information that he possesses. But, to my knowledge, that hasn’t been done yet.
“Just saying that, ‘I’ve been down there and I saw some people I thought might not be ...’” continued Dean, stopping short of finishing the sentence. “I don’t understand that.”
Reportedly, Turner said he learned of the illegal-immigrant issue from people who work at the 16-acre construction site. Turner, who said he has visited the site, claimed he saw construction workers first-hand who he believes are illegal immigrants.
Dean, who successfully pushed the Metro Council to approve financing the facility in January, said the contract the Convention Center Authority signed with Bell/Clark requires all workers have proper documentation. He said he’s been assured that project leaders have taken that requirement seriously.
“There’s an obligation under the contracts by, for instance, Clark/Bell to make sure that everybody they’re hiring, that they have the appropriate documentation in terms of citizenship,” Dean said. “That is part of the contract, and it’s their responsibility to enforce that. We’ve been assured that they take that very seriously and that they’re taking all reasonable steps to get that done.
“I know what the contract says,” Dean said. “I know what they’ve told us. If there’s any issue regarding it, we’ll address it.”