TN Assembly Approves Federal Refugee Lawsuit

     NASHVILLE (CN) — Tennessee lawmakers voted to direct the state’s attorney general to sue the federal government over its refugee resettlement program.
      SJR 0467, described as a Tennessee General Assembly statement of intent or position, “directs the commencement of legal action” related to the federal government’s alleged “mandated appropriation of state revenue and noncompliance with the Refugee Act.”
     The directive passed through the Tennessee Senate 27-5 on Feb. 22, and the Tennessee House of Representatives approved it Monday in a 69-25 vote.
     It allows legislators to retain outside counsel “if the attorney general and reporter declines to initiate or intervene in a civil action regarding the failure of the federal government to comply with the Refugee Act of 1980,” according to a summary on the Legislature’s website.
     Senate Majority Leader Mark Norris, R-Collierville, said during debate about the resolution that the Ann Arbor, Mich.-based Thomas More Law Center, a Christian conservative group, would handle the case for free, according to local news reports.
     The resolution was sponsored by Lt. Gov. Ron Ramsey.
     “Proud to see the General Assembly stand up for the safety and security of Tennessee,” Ramsey said on his Facebook page after the resolution passed. “A nation without strong borders is not a nation at all. Making sure those who enter this country are thoroughly vetted is not controversial; it is common sense.”
     Two months ago, Ramsey said that “the federal government has thus far refused to be a transparent partner in the refugee vetting process.”
     Gov. Bill Haslam, however, may disagree with the approach. According to a Tennessean report, Haslam said in February that he had “some concerns about that in terms of one branch of government ordering the attorney general what to do.”
     The Center for Refugees and Immigrants of Tennessee said in a statement that lawmakers should “hold true to Tennessee’s tradition of hospitality and neighborliness.”
     “Despite evidence showing that our vibrant refugee community contributes more to the economy than the cost of services they receive and evidence that refugees are not terrorists, the General Assembly seems determined to move forward with an action that creates division, distraction, and expense our great state does not need,” the group said. “We need our elected representatives to embrace the rich diversity of our communities, focus on growth and real problem solving in the critical arenas of poverty and education.”
     If state officials go through with the refugee lawsuit, Tennessee wouldn’t be the first. Texas sued the federal government in December to try to keep Syrian refugees out of the Lone Star State.

%d bloggers like this: