Today, the Tennessee General Assembly said it will sue the federal government over the Obama administration’s refugee resettlement policies on Tenth Amendment grounds. The Tennessee Senate passed a resolution authorizing that lawsuit in a 29 to 4 vote on the day after it had passed the Tennessee House by a 69 to 25 margin. “Today we struck a blow for Liberty by finally adopting SJR467,” State Senator Mark Norris (R) told Breitbart News.
Norris said that the surge of refugees originating in Syria has heightened the sense of urgency with which the Assembly addressed the issue and to get it before the courts.
Tennessee thus becomes the first state to sue the federal government over its operation of the refugee program within the borders of its state on Tenth Amendment grounds. Alabama and Texas are currently suing the federal government over the refugee resettlement program on the narrower grounds that it has failed to comply with the Refugee Act of 1980. Tennessee rejected the resettlement program in 2008.
Republicans in the legislature say that they are seeking to protect the sovereignty of Tennessee while they condemn what they feel is overreach on the part of the federal government.
It is not known whether Gov. Bill Haslam (R) will support the resolution or whether Tennessee Attorney General Herbert Slatery will represent the Tennessee General Assembly. Haslam has reservations about the law suit. However, resolutions of the Tennessee General Assembly do not require the governor’s signature to become effective.
The resolution calls for the Attorney General to consider representing the General Assembly in federal court. If Attorney General Slatery refuses to represent the General Assembly, the Thomas More Law Center, a respected public interest law firm based in Michigan, has said it will represent the state at no cost. It is not clear how much time the General Assembly will give the Attorney General to make up his mind.
Tennessee is one of twelve states that have withdrawn from the resettlement program in which the federal government has allegedly, without statutory authority, handed over the resettlement of refugees to “voluntary agencies” (VOLAGs) under a regulation known as the Wilson-Fish alternative program that was devised by HHS. The other Wilson Fish alternative program states are: Alaska, Alabama, Colorado, Idaho, Kentucky, Louisiana, Massachusetts, Nevada, North Dakota, South Dakota, and Vermont. Some of these voluntary agencies are affiliated with various Christian denominations and organizations.
Some of the governors and legislatures of these states are watching Tennessee closely or may join the law suit out of concern over the costs they will bear in hosting refugees.
The Obama administration recently announced that is shortening the length of time required for vetting Syrian refugees from two years to three months in order to meet its self-imposed goal of bringing in 10,000 refugees from that country before the end of September. Last month, the Partnership for a New American Economy, which is funded by former New York Mayor Michael Bloomberg along with George Soros-funded Welcoming America, announced that they have chosen twenty American communities to receive “Gateways for Growth” financial grants because of their receptive attitude to immigrants.
In South Dakota, the small city of Aberdeen (population 26,000) has recently been chosen by Lutheran Social Services to serve as a direct refugee resettlement site. South Dakota is one of the states under the Wil-Fish alternative program.
Here are the communities chose for the Gateways to Growth program. Among them is Detroit, whose metro area is home to one of the largest Muslim communities in the U.S.:
Akron and Summit County, OH
Kansas City, KS/MO
Los Angeles, CA
Macomb County, MI
New Orleans, LA
Phoenix, AZ and Arizona State
San Jose, CA
Salt Lake County, UT
Upstate NY Region (Syracuse/Buffalo, NY)
Spero News writer Martin Barillas is a former US diplomat, who also worked as a democracy advocate and election observer in Latin America. His first novel 'Shaken Earth', is available at Amazon.