Refugee Resettlement Watch

Tennessee lawsuit challenging refugee program could be filed by end of January, Kentucky may join

Posted by Ann Corcoran on January 12, 2017

Faithful readers know that this is a long time in coming, but we now see movement with the legal challenge that has the best shot of success in pushing the UN/US Refugee Admissions Program toward reform.

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Tennessee’s Republican Governor Bill Haslam fought the legislature on this issue. He welcomes more refugees to the state. Tennessee’s two US Senators (Alexander and Corker) also have done nothing to control expansion of the program in Tennessee.

The case, to be litigated by the Thomas Moore Law Center after the Tennessee legislature voted to sue and the governor agreed to hire them, involves the so-called Wilson-Fish provision that many believe is being used to unlawfully place the refugee program in a non-profit groups’ hands in states where the state government has opted out of the federal program.

In other words, one of the questions to be resolved is can a non-profit group (working with the feds) say how state taxpayer funds are spent, which is essentially what is happening in states that have withdrawn from the program?

States that could join Tennessee are those that recently withdrew including Texas, Maine, New Jersey and Kansas.  The older Wilson-Fish states, in addition to Tennessee and Kentucky, are also possible litigants, depending on the structure of their program, and include: Alabama, Alaska, Colorado, Idaho, Louisiana, Massachusetts, Nevada, North Dakota, South Dakota, and Vermont.

Here is the news from The Tennessean yesterday:

Tennessee’s lawsuit against the federal government over refugee resettlement could be filed by the end of the month, a proponent of the effort said Tuesday.

Senate Majority Leader Mark Norris, R-Collierville, said a team of legal experts was coming to Nashville to discuss the forthcoming lawsuit, which was approved by the legislature last year.

“We will be working on the complaint that we intend to file I hope before the end of the month,” he said, while indicating that there has been interest from some in Kentucky about joining the lawsuit.

Norris said any lawsuit would be filed in the federal court in Nashville or possibly in Washington, D.C.

Tennessee’s lawsuit will be the first of its kind in the nation, given that it will challenge the federal government for noncompliance of the Refugee Act of 1980 based on the 10th Amendment.

[….]

The basis of the lawsuit centers on based on several arguments, including that the federal government has failed to consult with the state on the continued placement of refugees; the cost of administering the refugee resettlement program has been shifted to the state without officials specifically authorizing the appropriation of funds; and that the ongoing placement of refugees is a violation of the 10th Amendment.

Last fall, legislative leaders signed off on the selection of the Thomas More Law Center, a Michigan-based legal group that has taken on several conservative legal causes in recent years.

For our extensive archive on Tennessee, click hereGo here for all of our reporting on Wilson-Fish states.

3 Responses to “Tennessee lawsuit challenging refugee program could be filed by end of January, Kentucky may join”

  1. southofcincy said

    Kentuckians – keep contacting Gov. Matt Bevin – He’s aware of the issue, but let him know YOU are aware too! http://governor.ky.gov/Pages/contact.aspx .

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  2. VERY glad to see that besides Tennessee, other states are considering joining in. This is good news. I’m also happy to see that my current state is on the list.

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    • Ann Corcoran said

      Those other states have NOT signed on to the lawsuit, but those states are all in a position to do so because of the kind of program operating there, if the governor has any guts! You need to bug the heck out of the governor and your legislators to get on this law suit!

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