Elected officials in five Tennessee counties said Monday they are considering resolutions to tell Republican Gov. Bill Lee that, no, they do not want more refuges in their respective areas.
Officials in three of the five counties — Wilson, Cannon, and Stewart — told The Tennessee Star Monday they do not wish to burden their taxpayers with the additional costs of caring for refugees.
As reported, Loudon County commissioners unanimously passed a similar resolution.
Stewart County Mayor Robin Brandon said commissioners could discuss the matter as early as this week.
“We already have minority settlements in Stewart County. We have a religious Korean settlement and a Muslim enclave that has also settled here. The median income in Stewart County is $46,000 a year. We are basically kind of a poor county,” Brandon said.
“We have enough people to take care of. We don’t need to bring in more people that don’t speak the language and will be on government assistance or welfare. We are trying to lift our county out of the poverty ranks rather than bring more in. I would be against bringing in any refugees.”
Cannon County Commissioner Jim Bush, meanwhile, said he and his colleagues will consider a resolution in March. Bush, who put the resolution forward, said that was the earliest he could get the item up for consideration.
“We are a poor county, and we do good to survive with what we’ve got. This will bring more pressure onto the county,” Bush said.
“I don’t know what kind of Christian Bill Lee is, but his mindset is not right. You can quote me on that one. When you bring in refugees that refuse to assimilate with us then I’m sorry, but I don’t have time for it.”
Wilson County Commissioner Jerry McFarland told The Star that members of the county’s Legislative Committee will take up the matter at their next meeting, although he did not give a date.
“I am not for this because it places additional burdens on the taxpayers of Wilson County for schools and other services in favor of people who have not been paying taxes,” McFarland said.
Tipton County Mayor Jeff Huffman said in an email that commissioners were scheduled to discuss the matter Monday night — but he would offer no other details.
Macon County Mayor Steve Jones said commissioners are not scheduled to discuss the matter.
“Instead, I have asked our county attorney to look into it. There have not been any resolutions put together at this time,” Jones said.
When asked why he referred the matter to the county attorney, Jones would only say this:
“Anything like this that goes through our county commission is something we want our county attorney to look into.”
In September, U.S. Republican President Donald Trump issued an executive order that enabled state and local governments to refuse resettling any more refugees in their states or localities.
Lee decided Tennessee will continue to take in refugees.
As reported, Lee cited his Christian faith as one of the reasons.
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Chris Butler is an investigative journalist at The Tennessee Star. Follow Chris on Facebook. Email tips to [email protected]
Photo l-r: Tipton County Mayor Jeff Huffman, Macon County Mayor Steve Jones, Stewart County Mayor Robin Brandon, Cannon County Commissioner Jim Bush, Wilson County Commissioner Jerry McFarland