Bill Lee to Decide Fate of Refugees in Tennessee as Deadline Approaches


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.”

According to Nashville Public Radio, states such as Virginia and Utah have already said yes.

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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Chris Butler is an investigative journalist at The Tennessee Star. Follow Chris on Facebook. Email tips to [email protected]
Photo “Immigrants and Refugees Here to Stay” by TIRRC.








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21 Thoughts to “Bill Lee to Decide Fate of Refugees in Tennessee as Deadline Approaches”

  1. Barbara

    We do not want or need any more Refugees/ illegals in Tennessee NY and CA wants them send them up there … I regret voting for you … you were not my first choice … and I’ll not vote for you again

  2. […] The Tennessee Star reported last week, Tennessee Republican Gov. Bill Lee is currently trying to decide whether the state will continue […]

  3. Nash

    So, when do these refugees go home again? When do we HALT their aid? They come here and get on the government dollar and our own people suffer in the streets.


    The bible says to take care of your own first. 1 Timothy 5:8

  4. […] As reported, Trump issued an executive order in September that asked states and cities to consent in writing if they want to continue refugee resettlements. […]

    1. Don Gravett

      No islamic muslims ! Deport the ones already here !

  5. Kevin

    IF we had a way of vetting “refugees” and IF we could pick and choose what skill sets those refugees brought with them, MAYBE, Christian Tennesseans would be OK with the concept. But we can’t do either, so I agree, don’t bring them here!

    There are plenty of native Tennesseans and Americans that are essentially “refugees” in their own land. The mentally ill, the homeless, the drug addicts, etc. How about we help them first!

    And I don’t mean by giving them more “free stuff”! Get all of these “tax exempt” “Ministries” to step up and earn their “tax-free” status and stop building these mega-churches!

    1. Tim

      Been on the front line with this in the past. Catholic charities just dumped the refugees with no one to interpret and to financial support. We don’t want to end up like other states doubling taxes to cover what was never provided by the organization who supposedly sponsored them.

  6. Sang Ward

    Put our own citizens a priority.

  7. Rick

    Do not play politics, the overwhelming majority of Tennesseans, who you are suppose to represent want no refugees, unless they all can live with you and your rich Franklin neighbors. Show some backbone, spineless!

  8. Pissed Off Nashvillian

    Saudi Arabia needs to take its “fair share”.

  9. janice dean

    Please consider what the people of Tennessee want. For every immigrant that comes here, Our way of life is changed. We want to keep our traditions and our Christian values. Please do not accept any more refugees!

  10. Lisa

    I am hoping Mr. Bill Lee will find it safer to not allow any more immigrants to come into the state of Tennessee. I believe a low percentage of these people will follow our laws, the Constitution and our beliefs. They come with their own, and if you know anything about the Quran then that tells you their beliefs and what their plan is for the future. I pray Mr. Lee is educated on how these people live and what their plan is for the future and will do the right thing for the people he serves in Tennessee.

  11. Babs

    Contact Governor Lee and let him know that the citizens of Tennessee do not consent to allowing any refugees and we do not want them. We want a deportation force. Business wants slave labor and we do not want our wages driven down by them.

  12. Karen Bracken

    If Bill Lee agrees he will be a one term Governor for sure. Catholic Charities brings these refugees here because they are a huge money maker for Catholic Charities then the TN tax payer picks up the financial burden.of these people who historically never get off the welfare system.

    1. Cathleen Stewart’s

      I wholeheartedly agree Karen . Jess and I were strong supporters for him after May pulled out of the campaign but this would be huge gamechanger for us.

    2. 83ragtop50

      Karen, Thank you for stating the truth.

  13. Frank List

    “Refugees”… almost every day brings another headline of a “refugee” committing some horrible act ( sexual assault, animal cruelty, theft, public defecation, honor killing ) with the excuse that such things were common and accepted in their original countries.

    A recent report also showed that a large percentage of “refugees” are on the government dole, living in isolated groups, gaming the system and contributing NOTHING of a positive nature to their new neighbors.

    There should be strictly enforced standards for behavior and assimilation for anyone who comes to America: first and foremost to BECOME AMERICANS… becoming citizens ( yes, it’s difficult… it SHOULD be. Try buying a house in Mexico before you start squealing ) and getting OFF THE HANDOUTS AND GET TO WORK.

    Learn the language, adopt and embrace the American Culture- yes, we HAVE one, despite what the snowflakes say- and contribute to the society you have entered.

  14. Dave Vance

    It’s a no brainer for anybody remotely conservative ! We dont need anymore refugees in Tennessee! What is he waiting on?

  15. Martha Brown

    Refugees and other foreign legal and illegal immigrants already come here after being placed in other states. We do not need to offer to take more as our schools, particularly Davidson, are already overwhelmed with problems, both from the foreign language, etc problems and domestic issues. We need a breather from all of this. If we are going to get people who are accepted in other states, we do not need to offer to accept any as we get them anyway!

  16. Gabby

    Time for the refugees to go home

  17. Mary

    Consent to this and you will be a one term governor.