The two leading contenders for the Republican nomination for the U.S. Senate to replace retiring Sen. Lamar Alexander (R-TN) disagree with Gov. Bill Lee’s controversial decision on Wednesday to allow refugees to resettle in Tennessee.
“I have complete and total respect for Governor Lee, but when it comes to this issue, we do not agree,” former U.S. Ambassador to Japan Bill Hagerty told The Tennessee Star in a statement released by his campaign on Wednesday.
Dr. Manny Sethi, a Vanderbilt emergency room surgeon, issued a statement to The Star on Wednesday.
“I am grateful for President Trump and Vice President Pence’s commitment to Christian refugees fleeing religious persecution. I understand the Governor’s desire to lend a hand to Christian refugees fleeing radical Islamic persecution, but I disagree with the decision,” Sethi said in the statement.
“It’s imperative that we know who is entering our country and why. As Senator, I’ll work to increase vetting standards for refugees. Washington has failed at that for decades, and if we don’t get it right, it will have tragic consequences,” he added.
As The Tennessee Star reported Wednesday, Lee announced 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.”
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. Some refugees receive an eight month federal subsidy for Refugee Medical Assistance and Refugee Cash Assistance. However, refugees who are eligible for TANF and/or TennCare do not get the eight month federal subsidy for Refugee Medical Assistance or Refugee Cash Assistance. Those expenses are borne by Tennessee taxpayers.
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.
As reported in September, Sethi said if he replaces Alexander then his medical background gives him the skill set he needs to do something a lot of U.S. senators cannot — get his policies enacted into law.
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