The executive director of the Nashville-based Tennessee County Services Association seemed to suggest in a recent message to county commissioners statewide that there is not much they can do on refugee resettlement.
But former Wilson County GOP Chair Terri Nicholson told The Tennessee Star Sunday that’s not accurate.
Nicholson referred to TCSA Executive Director David Connor. 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.
As The Star reported, officials in several Tennessee counties announced they either will or will likely oppose Lee’s decision to continue resettling refugees throughout the state.
“He (Connor) makes it sound like the county commission doesn’t really need to act. He is saying to look at what he describes as an executive order and how it reduces the number of refugees, etc. What he failed to mention is a directive, and that directive is supposed to have the state work in close cooperation with the local governments. They do that to ensure that refugees are resettled in communities that are eager and equipped to support successful immigration into America,” Nicholson said.
“What he failed to mention is that the local governments were not in on the decision-making process and that is where the executive order specifically states where they should be. That brings you down to the question, if you are a local government county commissioner, ‘Is your county eager and equipped because you cannot resettle refugees in a county that is not eager, willing and equipped?’ The PCSA director fails to mention that.”
That, Nicholson said, is a crucial component and one officials have overlooked.
As reported, a Clinton-appointed federal judge issued a preliminary injunction halting Trump’s Executive Order 13888.
In the letter to commissioners, Connor discusses that injunction.
“Prior to this injunction, Governor Lee and the mayors of some of the urban counties where these programs operated had consented to continue receiving refugees,” Connor wrote.
“Depending on the outcome of the litigation, it is unknown whether consent will still be required.”
Nicholson said that injunction had nothing to do with the county resolutions.
“Our resolution in the counties is showing support for what the state legislature did in filing the lawsuit against the federal government that the Thomas Moore Law Center filed on behalf of them,” Nicholson said.
“When that happened that was the Tennessee legislature saying ‘No, we do not wish to participate in a federal program of refugee resettlement.’ They were looking out for Tennessee and its infrastructure.”
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Chris Butler is an investigative journalist at The Tennessee Star. Follow Chris on Facebook. Email tips to [email protected]
Photo “David Conner” by Tennessee County Services Association and “Terri Nicholson” by Terri Nicholson.