Tennessee Republican Gov. Bill Lee is currently trying to decide whether the state will continue to allow refugees to resettle in the state, per an executive order from President Donald Trump.
Trump issued an executive order in September that asked states and cities to consent in writing if they want to continue refugee resettlements.
Lee spokeswoman Laine Arnold told The Tennessee Star Monday there are two different deadlines – one for framework and another for consent.
“The federal government is in the process of providing further guidance on this executive order. There is a 90-day window from when an executive order drops and when that framework is put in place. In this case, that puts the deadline for framework at the end of December,” Arnold said.
“The state’s deadline for consent is January 21. We will continue working with the federal government to determine the best outcome for Tennessee.”
But because Tennessee has yet to respond, members of refugee organizations, such as the Catholic Charities of Tennessee, reportedly the largest resettlement agency in the state, are lobbying Lee to consent, Nashville Public Radio reported.
Catholic Charities of Tennessee did not respond to The Star’s repeated requests for comment Monday.
But Catholic Charities Executive Director Judy Orr told Nashville Public Radio the economy is strong and refugees “have contributed a considerable amount to many of the businesses here locally.”
The station went on to report that since Trump took office he has placed caps on how many refugees can come to the United States.
“For the 2020 fiscal year, that number is 18,000. This past year, fewer than 700 refugees were resettled in Tennessee. That’s a smaller number than past years,” Nashville Public Radio quoted Orr as saying.
“Tennessee currently has five organizations – including Catholic Charities of Tennessee – that receive federal funding to help refugees’ transition into their new life in the United States. The money is used for needs such as housing, transportation and food. If the state ends up refusing resettlements, refugees would be placed in another state. They could, later, move to Tennessee if they want.”
Orr said refugees and organizations in the state could face additional challenges, the station reported.
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