Gov. Bill Lee Caves to the Left, Says Tennessee Will Take More Refugees

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Tennessee Republican Gov. Bill Lee has announced that the state will not stop resettling refugees, even though Republican Lt. Gov. Randy McNally and Republican Speaker of the House Cameron Sexton said they disagree.

Lee had this power, per an executive order from U.S. Republican 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 released a statement explaining his reasons.

“The United States and Tennessee have always been … a shining beacon of freedom and opportunity for the persecuted and oppressed, particularly those suffering religious persecution,” Lee said in a statement.

“My administration has worked extensively to determine the best outcome for Tennessee, and I will consent to working with President Trump and his administration to responsibly resettle refugees.”

McNally and Sexton, however, took issue with Lee in a statement they released to the press Wednesday.

“Both our nation and the state of Tennessee have been extremely welcoming to immigrants throughout modern history. In 2016, the General Assembly adopted a resolution expressing the desire of our citizens to file a federal lawsuit to halt refugee resettlement in Tennessee,” the two officials said.

“Our opinion has not changed on this issue since legal action was taken, and our personal preference would have been to exercise the option to hit the pause button on accepting additional refugees in our state. However, the federal order makes this the sole decision of the Governor, and he has made his call.”

State Senate Majority Leader Jack Johnson (R-TN) told The Tennessee Star that he was perfectly aligned with the statement of Lt. Gov. McNally and Speaker Sexton.

“The Tennessee General Assembly spoke loud and clear on refugee resettlement in 2017 when we voted to file a lawsuit on it,” Rep. Mark Green (R-TN), who served in the Tennessee State Senate until his election to Congress in 2018, told The Tennessee Star in a statement he provided on Wednesday about Gov. Lee’s decision.

“As it is still pending in court, I believe Tennessee should hit the pause button and allow the lawsuit to play out. The General Assembly should be involved in any future decisions regarding refugee resettlement in our state,” Green concluded.

Left wing groups, like The Tennessee Immigration and Refugee Rights Coalition (TIRRC) have lobbied Gov. Lee aggressively to announce in favor of allowing more refugees to be resettled in the state. That resettlement is done initially at the expense of the federal government, but after eight months the costs of social welfare benefits and education are borne by the taxpayers of the state of Tennessee.

The refugee resettlement program in Tennessee is managed by an arm of Catholic Charities, one of the federally approved Voluntary Agencies (VOLAGs) paid by the federal government to resettle refugees.

Policies towards immigration and refugee resettlement were among the key issues in the 2018 Republican gubernatorial primary. Bill Lee won that primary in an upset over two better funded rivals, Rep. Diane Black (R-TN) and business executive Randy Boyd.

While Black and Boyd spent millions attacking each other, and driving their negatives up, Lee slipped in to a victory by focusing on a positive campaign.

During the primary, however, Rep. Black warned that Lee would support open border immigration policies, free tuition for illegal aliens, and would continue to support refugee resettlement in the state.

“”The governor is well-intentioned, and I would say that there are some liberal Christians who take advantage of that and the refugee situation is far more complicated than just letting in people,” former Vanderbilt professor Carol Swain, editor of Debating Immigration, told The Tennessee Star on Wednesday.

“And it has to do with how many people can you absorb, how long those people get assistance from the federal government, what happens to the communities once their aid runs out, and those various things that I would say that are not always fair to the refugees when we bring them into this country and we don’t have the resources they need to thrive,” Swain continued, adding:

You know that expression ‘The Road to Hell is Paved with Good Intentions’? That may not be the right expression, but I think the Christian community and the governor all have good intentions, but does that make good public policy? And we look at public policy and we have to look at how many refugees you can assimilate with the resources that come from the federal government, what happens when those resources run out, and is it enough to really enable people to thrive and be effective?

I think what really happens is it falls on the churches and people in the communities, and it also creates sometimes a lot of anger and bitterness on the part of the young immigrants who come here. In some cases, they didn’t ask to come. They see what other Americans have. They don’t have it, and so you end up with gangs and people who hate America.

A large contingent of Tennessee Star readers said earlier this month on our website and our Facebook page that they did not want Lee to allow more refugees in. Readers said if Lee did so that he would make himself a one-term governor.

Members of Lee’s office gave no comment on the matter when we asked them for one.

Also, as The Star reported in September, the Thomas More Law Center (TMLC) and Bursch Law PLLC filed a petition for rehearing by the entire Sixth Circuit Court of Appeals bench of a two-judge panel opinion dismissing Tennessee’s challenge to the constitutionality of the federal refugee resettlement program for lack of standing.

The petition for rehearing is here.

The two-judge panel rejected the state’s challenge in July, as The Tennessee Star previously reported.

The basis for the rehearing petition, which was filed Friday, Sept. 6, is that the two-judge opinion is “painfully at odds” with Supreme Court precedent.

“The basis for the rehearing petition, which was filed Friday, Sept. 6, is that the two-judge opinion is “painfully at odds” with Supreme Court precedent. A federal judge in March 2018 dismissed Tennessee’s lawsuit against the federal government’s resettlement of refugees in the state on 10th amendment grounds. The Tennessee General Assembly in May 2018 authorized TMLC to file an appeal on its behalf, The Star reported. The law center did not charge for the service.

TMLC says it filed the lawsuit on behalf of the plaintiffs in March 2017, alleging that the Refugee Act of 1980, imposed on it by the federal government, amounts to an unconstitutional power grab – commandeering millions in state taxpayer dollars for a purely federal program.”

A federal district court granted the federal government’s motion to dismiss.

The petition for rehearing asks the full bench: Does the Tennessee General Assembly have standing to challenge a regulatory regimen allowing the federal government to siphon dollars from the state treasury “at times and in amounts of the federal government’s choosing,” diluting the legislature’s exclusive power of appropriation?

The controversy dates to 2008 when the state pulled out of the federal refugee program in accordance with its agreement with the federal government. The flow of refugees continued, as the federal government simply transferred management of the program to a private agency, Catholic Charities of Tennessee, an arm of the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops.

Richard Thompson, president and chief counsel of TMLC, said, “This case has enormous jurisprudential consequences, not only on the issue of the federal refugee resettlement program, but on the ability of Congress to force states to pay for future bizarre, fantastical, unwanted programs as proposed by current Democrat candidates without any recourse to the courts.”

The federal government is forcing Tennessee to continue funding the program by threatening to pull $7 billion in federal Medicaid funding, 20 percent of the state’s total budget.

The rehearing petition said, “As the federal bureaucracy continues to grow, federal officials will increasingly look to state budgets as the solution to federal funding deficits. When federal bureaucrats do so in violation of the Constitution, e.g. by coercing states to continue funding under pain of losing 20% of the state budget, state legislators must have the ability to bring suit.”

Besides Medicaid funding, the federal government commandeers state funds for other welfare programs and for public education of the refugees.

Since January 2002 the federal government has placed more than 19,000 refugees into Tennessee cities.

– – –

Chris Butler is an investigative journalist at The Tennessee Star. Follow Chris on Facebook. Email tips to [email protected]
Background Photo “Bill Lee Speaking” by Bill Lee. 

 

 

 

 

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76 Thoughts to “Gov. Bill Lee Caves to the Left, Says Tennessee Will Take More Refugees”

  1. GENE

    Dear Gov. Lee, Please don’t bring Refugees into Tennessee. Not only is it a slap in the face to your once strong supporters, it is not in the best interest of citizens of this great state. Support your President, and make Tennessee proud. If you truly love and want to benefit this state, you will see this will not do that. If you do it will show all who did support you, you sold us out and brought shame on the many who know you and your family, and it will follow them and you into the future. Reconsider, I would like to think your not going to take the money, or favors and then join the list who have done this before you. THANKS

  2. […] Republican Gov. Bill Lee, as reported, wants to continue resettling refugees throughout […]

  3. […] announced unilaterally that he would allow refugees to continue to be resettled, The Tennessee Star reported. Lee had this power, per an executive order from U.S. Republican President Donald Trump. Trump […]

  4. […] month, Tennessee Gov. Bill Lee decided to say yes to more refugee resettlement in the state in FY 2020 without consulting members of the […]

  5. […] month, Tennessee Gov. Bill Lee decided to say yes to more refugee resettlement in the state in FY 2020 without consulting members of the […]

  6. […] month, Tennessee Gov. Bill Lee decided to say yes to more refugee resettlement in the state in FY 2020 without consulting members of the […]

  7. […] month, Tennessee Gov. Bill Lee decided to say yes to more refugee resettlement in the state in FY 2020 without consulting members of the […]

  8. […] month, Tennessee Gov. Bill Lee decided to say yes to more refugee resettlement in the state in FY 2020 without consulting members of the […]

  9. tommy

    i am looking for a primary challenger. i voted for lee. boyd was my first choice. but i will not vote for lee in 2022. he needs to go.

  10. […] Bill Lee’s decision on December 18 to say yes to more refugees in Tennessee allows the federal government to resettle refugees from any country […]

  11. […] Tennessee Star reported, Lee brought an early Christmas gift to leftists around the state. He announced one week before the […]

  12. Bob

    Bad, bad, mistake…no more refugees!!! You are gone!

    1. tommy

      i am looking for a primary challenger. i voted for lee. boyd was my first choice. but i will not vote for lee in 2022. he needs to go.

  13. […] The Tennessee Star reported last month, Republican Lt. Gov. Randy McNally and Republican Speaker of the House Cameron Sexton said they […]

  14. […] Just before Christmas, Tennessee Republican Gov. Bill Lee announced that the state will not stop resettling refugees, even though Republican Lt. Gov. Randy McNally and Republican Speaker of the House Cameron Sexton said they disagree, The Tennessee Star reported. […]

  15. […] The Tennessee Star reported, Lee brought an early Christmas gift to leftists around the state. He announced one week before the […]

  16. […] DeWine is one of more than 30 governors who have agreed to accept more refugees under Trump’s plan for states to opt in. At least one other Republican governor — Bill Lee of Tennessee — has drawn intense criticism for that decision, The Tennessee Star reported. […]

  17. Linda

    Bill Lee, We don’t want any more refugees here. We are opening ourselves for these to possible being in our government like OMAR. That distrist is all refugees and that got her voted into our government where she doesn’t belong. They are not Americans!!!!!!!!! Have no right in our House of Representatives or anywhere else. This is asking for more trouble for American people. Where is our wishes, where is our help, where is the help for the vets, homeless, elderly that struggle to eat, pay for their needed medication, light bills, just necessities. Where are their help!!!!!!!!!!!!! Can you answer that. Why do we not have the right to vote on this. Americans that have worked, paid taxes are the ones funding this stupidity. WE DON’T WANT THIS PLANE AND SIMPLE. NOT MORE VOTES FROM ME IF YOU DO THIS,

  18. Cecil

    I am against —bringing refugees –into tennessee—-I voted for you —–but never again —-You are going against the wishes of the majority of Tennesseeans—–I don`t know of anyone -that is for this.—-It we be nothing but trouble–for us.—It`s time for Politicans to put -AMERICAN CITIZENS–1st—instead of Illegals & refugees.

    1. Paul wood

      Needs to be put to a vote by the people not some one that’s not for the people. You will not get my vote again.

  19. Patrice

    You just made a HUGHE MISTAKE allowing the continuation of resettlement to take place in Tennessee. I supported you for Governor and you can be certain this is the Worst decision you could make for the state of Tennessee. It will not only hurt this State it will for sure hurt your business as well. People trusted you to look out for us and this is Not in our best interest Nor Yours Sir.

  20. Lowell Gentry

    Until every homeless vet is off the streets and every retired or disabled Tennesseean eats every meal and gets the medical they need we do not need to be supporting any illegal aliens. Do not bring any more to this state. You were not elected to do that crap. I voted for you but not for this shit. If you do this your career as a politician in Tenn is done. You might as well pack up and move to Kalifornia. You are a once and done RINO.

  21. Jonathan Lankford

    We need a law on the books requiring public disclosure of where “refugees” some from, their complete immigration status, and how many others are attached to them.

    If I were in Tennessee, I’d take time out of my day to confront the governor or his office asking for an interview.

    I’m moving legally approved and financially self-sufficient immigrant family back to Nashville in summer hope Tennessee remains relatively stable and conservative in the long-term.

    Fight politically like there’s no tomorrow for your children. Then there will be a tomorrow.

  22. […] The Tennessee Star reported last week, Tennessee Republican Bill Lee announced the state will not stop resettling refugees, even though […]

  23. […] The Tennessee Star reported last week, Lee announced that the state will not stop resettling refugees, even though Republican Lt. Gov. […]

  24. […] week, Gov. Lee announced his unpopular and controversial decision to allow more refugees to be resettled in the state in […]

  25. Leroy Royston

    Governor Lee you were elected to take care of Tennessee, not the illegals and over pouring refugees that are allowed to come here. Our Veterans and mental health issues are overwhelming and not to mention the drug problem we are faced with should take presidency over the settlement of refugees. My Opinion

  26. True. America has always been a beacon for the oppressed.
    It’s also true that Islamic hate groups and Hispanic traffickers has exploited our kindness to their advantage and our demise.

  27. […] left-leaning New Yorker has praised Tennessee Republican Gov. Bill Lee for his decision this week to not stop resettling […]

  28. David Faulkner

    Well Governor, just go on home. Please. We didn’t elect you to be a RINO. We, the people of Tennessee, do NOT agree or support your decision in this matter. We are not a sanctuary ANYTHING and don’t intend to be. We’ve got enough to take care of among our own without pandering to a bunch of freeloading people who, in many cases, want nothing more than to take advantage of whatever we hand over to them, all while most will contribute little to nothing. They want a free ride. That’s not what we’re about. They either assimilate or stay out. And Governor, if you don’t see it that way, then YOU have established yourself as a BIG part of the problem. SAY NO TO BEING A SANCTUARY STATE! THE REST OF US HAVE!

  29. Bill McCallie

    Looks like Bill Lee doesn’t want a second term. Put Tennesseans first. He needs to rethink immigration issue ….take care of our own people

  30. Cynthia heath

    This not the 1700s ! This country has given so much of itself away .
    Have even seen what these so called refugees are doing to other countries . Let alone the cities here in the US . I thought you were on America’s side . I guess I was wrong or you are a turn coat.

  31. […] The Tennessee Star reported this week, Trump issued an executive order in September that asked states and cities to consent in writing if […]

  32. Cindy Dillon

    I voted for Bill Lee I will not next term! We don’t need any more refugees here! Good Lord what are these left liberals trying to do to us?

  33. Rose

    How dare you! We voted you in to hear our voice. I know this is not what the Tennessee people want! You can’t give health care to the uninsured so I and other Tennessee people have nothing for these people period. Don’t get comfortable in that seat!

  34. Larry Bennett

    Governor Lee, I voted for you and supported you, i hope your not going to lean Left. Because when you help the Left out, it cost me my SS AND Medicare that i paid into all my life. I need these to live on, these Refugees are only here to get free stuff and not have to work to live. These people I’m sure are here illegally. Why do you want to take part of their crime ? I’m asking you to reconsider in taking more illegal refugees into Tennessee. Thank you.

  35. Sue

    I helped get him in office and I sure as crap know how to get him out.

    1. BJ Zeagler

      We’re with you. He has to go. Unfortunately as it usually is we had little choice. He also appealed to Christians expressing he was honorable. Really I guess not just another untruth.

  36. RICKEY LONG

    While I voted for BILL LEE this election, I figured that he was going to be a positive model for this Great State of Tennessee. It is obvious that I was wrong. Governor Lee you better step back and take a good long look at what you are about to do. It is already a law that IT IS ILLEGAL FOR COMPANIES TO EMPOLY ILLEGAL IMMIGRANTS, YET IT IS FACT THAT THEY DO WITHOUT REPRISAL. The welfare system is already overtaxed and in trouble, and now you are wanting to add to it. STRAIGHT UP, THAT IS BULLSHIT! If I knew you were not going to look after the already residing Tennesseans, I would not have voted for you this past election. Example, Here in Lafollette, everywhere you turn around there has been a what looks like a foreign takeover of every gas station and stretching into the fast food market.
    ***DON’T LOOK FOR MY VOTE NEXT ELECTION***

  37. Gregory

    A soros backed Socialist Dumbocrate

  38. Pandora

    https://cis.org/Report/High-Cost-Resettling-Middle-Eastern-Refugees?gclid=EAIaIQobChMI0cTn69W_5gIVmMVkCh39_wt2EAAYAyAAEgLHJPD_BwE

    This article gives the facts about the cost of resettling Middle Eastern Refugees. You will choke on the costs! Bill Lee should have looked at the facts instead of giving into the pro-refugee propaganda. He unilaterally made this decision and he needs to UNDO it as soon as he possibly can. They should NEVER be resettled here. It works far better for all concerned when they resettle in another Middle Eastern nation close to their own.

  39. Ben weeks

    Why take on more to feed and keep up. Try helping the veterans for a change,

  40. Ralph

    In this misguided decision, Gov. Lee has just condemned countless thousands, even millions, of innocents who will not realize sanctuary due to all resources being used instead to provide refuge for the lucky few. It is an irrefutable fact that refugees do best in a culture and region that is closest to that of their homeland. Not only that, but for every refugee we house here in the USA, or other western country, we deny desperately needed refuge to 5, 10, even 100’s of others that could have been given refuge at much less expense. Not a very Christian thing to do there – all to fatten the coffers of Catholic Charities and to further the agenda of TIRRC. See if that’s enough to get you another term, or even serve out your current one.

    You have ignored the will of the good people of Tennessee, as well as that of your own party’s state legislature majority. You betrayed your base and simultaneously condemned thousands, possibly millions, of innocents to unending misery, exploitation, or worse.

    Maybe you will be soon getting your invitation to join the Council of Foreign Relations. Davos is quite lovely as I understand.

  41. […] The Tennessee Star reported Wednesday, Lee announced the state will not stop resettling refugees, even though Republican Lt. Gov. Randy […]

    1. Danny Coln

      No more refugees

    2. Roy Blaylock

      One term brother, you have one chance with me and look’s like you blew it.

  42. Carol Dodson

    Sad day for Tennessee., when our elected Governor Bill LEE doesn’t represent the people who voted for him!

  43. Julie

    He is either buckling under special interest groups or is a Republican in Name Only. Gov. Lee, please make sure to count the votes next go around and do the math. I will not be voting for you.

    1. CMinTN

      Either way, it’s time to start thinking about possible replacements.

  44. Robert Kurtz

    Exactly how do we reach Governor Lee to express extreme displeasure with his desire to accept more refugees? As a Monroe County resident, I can assure the Governor that if he follows through on his decision, he will never receive my vote again, and I will do my best to see that he is never again elected to any office in Tennessee.

  45. Mary

    One term Governor.

  46. Thomas Pritchett

    We have to stop this

  47. Russ

    While I voted and support Govenerer Lee, THIS IS A MISTAKE.

  48. sick and tired

    I guess he’s just like all the other lying ,money grubbing [email protected]@ holes in government .

  49. Mary

    I’m so tired of Americans being placed to the back of the line by our so-called government representatives! We have homeless Americans, hungry Americans, dying Americans, yet time after time after time, those representatives do everything they can for people in other countries, illegal aliens and others.. It’s long past time that we fix the issues of our own country first! It’s time politicians stop using us as pawns, stop bleeding our wallets dry by caring for everyone else while we continue to ignore our own.. Bill Lee has lost my support! I’m done! He led us to believe he will listen to our needs, our thoughts and he, like so many others have shut us out once again.. I hope someone begins a recall petition.. I will sign it.. I’m done with these kinds of men and women who use us and keep us in the back seat..

  50. This is totally wrong ..Take care of Tennesseans first…Gov. Lee must house all new refugees in his personal home at his expense. Gov. Lee no longer has my vote.

  51. Not happy in Knoxville

    Sounds like a one term governor, I wonder if we can primary this guy.

  52. Nina Parker

    Some of us who cant afford groceries and are on SS, after working all our lives,and cant get state help! Need to sue the state for giving all this help to these lazy ass people! Who only want to live on the gov. I already only eat 1 meal a day and sometimes only every other day!

    1. Bella

      I just want to state my duty as a patriot for all of TN. It’s despicable how veterans, retirees, and legal citizens are treated!!!!!! I am sick of Nancy & hentch men trying to remove President Trump & erase my vote!!!!! This monster called demonrats & the swamp they inhabit need to be squashed!!!!!!

  53. Brenda

    Bill Lee, we did not vote for you to look after refugees. We voted for you to look after Tennessee citizens! Very angry!!! Are you becoming a liberal democrat???

  54. CCW

    To help Chris: Proverbs 14:12 12 “There is a way that appears to be right, but in the end it leads to death.”
    The modern version as demonstrated by Billy Lee: “The road to Hell is paved with good intentions.”

  55. midnitelamp

    how is a recall conducted?

    1. Mary

      Start a recall petition. I will sign it!

  56. Boomer

    Hey Bill, how many refugees will you personally house. How many?
    Jerk!

  57. rick

    Another complete zero . Pack your bags you loser.

  58. Amos Williams

    IMPEACH BILL LEE. We don’t need any more Refugees period. This guy needs to resign.

  59. Susie Holley

    I think we need to help our people first. We have people in the USA going hungry. Cold etc before we give illegal aliens a lot of free stuff that our people can’t get. Free tuition, taxes etc. We ate paying for that. All they are getting is coming from American’s
    Who dont want it. We dont get to vote it. I vote no.

    1. Mary

      You are exactly right! We must take care of our own first!

    2. Concerned tennessean

      I agree , charity starts at Home .
      When we have no more homeless or people in need , then we can entertain helping illegals

  60. Dal

    Sounds like the abject abrogation of Tennessee’s 10th amendment rights by an ELECTED official sworn to uphold & defend the sovereignty of Tennessee

  61. 83ragtop50

    Just the type of action I expected when this guy ran for office. I sure as heck hope that he goes down as a one term loser. He does not give a flip about protecting we citizens. He is just pandering to the liberals.

    1. Mary

      Bill Lee will never get re-elected! He is done! I would prefer a recall petition begin and if it does, I will sign it!

  62. Pissed Off Nashvillian

    Let someone else be the shining example.

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