Live from Memphis on the newsmakers line Thursday morning on The Tennessee Star Report with Michael Patrick Leahy – broadcast on Nashville’s Talk Radio 98.3 and 1510 WLAC weekdays from 5:00 a.m. to 8:00 a.m.– Leahy was joined by the New American Populist founder, Jeff Webb to speak about the refugee resettlement issue facing Tennessee and his common-sense solution.
During the third hour, Webb explained his common-sense solution to the resettlement of refugees instead of bringing them into Tennessee where they would be unable to assimilate and cost taxpayers lots of money. He expressed his concern for working Americans who are already dealing with their own current issues of homelessness and education.
Leahy: We’ve been talking about the governor’s decision to welcome refugees, and we are now delighted to have on our line Jeff Webb. He is a Memphis entrepreneur and president and founder of the New American Populist who’s got a thing or two to say about the governor’s decision.
Webb: Good morning Mike. Good to be with you. I was able to listen to your part of the show earlier and it is an amazing situation. It’s going to be exciting to see how this all plays out. He emphasized how this was an undeclared assault on the middle class and working Americans who would ultimately be picking up the tab.
Leahy: Yeah. I think one of the things that the New American Populist is doing, and we’re seeing evidence here of what Terri Nicholson and Michelle Foreman are doing. You’re really a champion of everyday working Americans and of course here in Tennessee. Taking these resolutions to the county level seems to me Jeff the kind of thing that your organization is supportive of.
Webb: Federalism is a great thing right? When it’s done the right way. But yes, that’s exactly right. Our whole mantra is to revitalize America’s middle class. While we focus a lot on economic issues and the economic plight and journey of the middle class and working Americans.
This is the perfect example of how our everyday citizens are affected by overreach from the federal or the state government. And what Terri and Michelle have done is so inspiring. And we should be lucky enough to have people like them in every community.
It’s amazing that the governor, whether he’s gotten good or misguided legal advice or not about his rights, why in the world would he not be taking the position anyway that I want to work with local communities? I want to respect the rights and the wishes of our citizens.
And in no way would I ever try to impose hardship on them. But you know, the silence is deafening, right? I think he needs to come to the table right now and go, oops. You know what? I’m going to work with the communities and force this on anybody. That’s what he should do as far as a good policy of the governorship.
Leahy: I think from what I can tell, most members of the Republican state executive committee here agree with you on that Jeff. Also, we’re looking at the counties. I know in Shelby County your Democrat mayor there, Lee Harris is following the governors lead. What do you think of that?
Webb: I’m shocked. (Leahy laughs) Another liberal Democrat is as we say, show me a big city governed by a liberal Democrat that has not had any major problems. It just doesn’t exist. No surprise there.
Leahy: In Memphis, I’m guessing that from the folks that you’ve talked to, members of the state legislature there. Are you hearing that there is resistance among the Republicans in the Tennessee General Assembly to the governor’s decision?
Webb: Yeah. I think there is. One of the big issues, and frankly you’re helping with what you’re doing right now. This is an issue that is flying under the radar screen by most of our citizens. And it needs to be brought to the forefront before it’s complete.
The legislators that are aware of it are frankly upset because as you’ve said because they haven’t even been consulted. This is the sort of policy that is going to affect their community and its constituents. And they want to have a say in it.
Leahy: I want to go to the bottom line here. You and I had a little discussion about this. You have, I think a really interesting common-sense idea how to solve this refugee problem in a more cost-effective way that isn’t putting the burden of cost on the citizens. Tell us a little bit about your idea of an alternative to replacing this program.
Webb: Well look. America is a compassionate and generous country. To the extent, there are these serious issues and circumstances where we want to help a certain group of people and refugees. It’s understandable. We can assume that people have good intentions on both sides of this issue.
But, the fact of the matter is as you said, and as Terri and Michelle have pointed out, we have so many problems, and your guests have pointed out that we have problems with our schools. Funding our teachers. Hospitals. All of our state services. Law enforcement. Housing.
We have all of these problems in spades in the state, and we need to focus on addressing those for our existing citizens. If we as a nation want to really help on this refugee issue with countries like Congo and Myanmar, and Burma wouldn’t we really be better off trying to resettle them in a country that has more cultural similarities than where they are from?
Because assimilation has been an issue frankly, and I talked to my friends in Minnesota about that. Wouldn’t we be better to find someplace that’s closer where they could be resettled there? Even if we helped financially. A good example would be Thailand, or the Congo and Myanmar.
Thailand already has refugee camps that are operated by the United Nations. Nobody is saying they need to be put in refugee camps long term. Perhaps we could provide some type of solution or we had some type of working community to transfer them from Thailand into those refugee camps. For us to bring these people here with the issues that we have right now and with the assimilation issues, it’s just a big mistake.
There are other countries out there that I think it makes a lot more sense. We have to decide that’s what we want to do and put the effort in place.
Leahy: That sounds like a very common-sense solution Jeff, but also a compassionate solution. You’re helping these people but you’re not ruining our country and ruining things for everyday working Tennesseans.
Webb: Yes. It seems like a win-win to me. But you know, we’ll see. As you were pointing out. There is a whole industry and bureaucracy that benefits from the refugee policies that we have right now. And I do believe that’s what we’re fighting. This is the same so many different things in our country.
And as you pointed out earlier, at the end of the day, who pays the tab? Who ends up having more taxes? It’s the middle class and it’s everyday Americans. And I think what we’re doing right is starting to push back.
This could be the beginning off a movement to take back and redefine federalism in our country. Because there is no doubt that the middle class has been under assault here in the past 30 years. And this is just another example of that. And it’s time to push back.
Leahy: It sounds like your group, New American Populist on the web at newamericanpopulist.com, which you founded. It sounds like you want to take this push back effort that you’re seeing here in Tennessee and take it through the rest of the country. Is that the direction you’re headed?
Webb: Absolutely. This is one of the issues that we think immigration has had a dramatic impact on just the general well-being of working Americans. Yeah, this falls right into our sweet spot as far as the issues we that think is important, and we want to be involved in.
Leahy: If people want to volunteer and be involved in it. People do listen here in Tennessee and around the country. We had a reader in Maine who is trying to push back at the county level on this forced refugee resettlement. If people want to volunteer to be part of this program that you are developing.
A new approach or an old approach revived with grassroots pushback at the country level. They can go to your website at newamericanpopulist.com. You’ve got a place here where people can sign up and join.
Webb: Exactly. Yes.
Leahy: It’s great talking with you. I think this is a bunch of common-sense solutions from a guy who’s built a business from scratch and made it very successful. I think we need a little bit more common sense and attention to the law and consideration for everyday working Americans. And I think that’s what your group is doing. My hats off to you as well for all of your efforts here Jeff.
Webb: Thanks very much, Mike.
Listen to the interview with Jeff Webb, beginning at the 16:50 mark of the third hour here:
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