The Tennessee-based Bridge Refugee Services is preparing to accept more Afghan refugees and send them to East Tennessee.
The Tennessee Star twice on Wednesday contacted Governor Bill Lee’s communications staff to ask for comment and to ask what action, if any, he deemed necessary to respond to new Afghan refugees.
Lee’s staff did not reply to either request.
Bridge Refugee Services Executive Director Drocella Mugorewera agreed to answer our questions via phone Wednesday — before the line was somehow disconnected.
“We will welcome them [the Afghan refugees],” Mugorewera said.
“The federal government sent them to us.”
The Star then asked how many Afghan refugees she and her organization plan to relocate to East Tennessee. Several seconds of silence followed. The phone connection was severed. Subsequent attempts to call Mugorewera again were unsuccessful.
According to the Knoxville-based WVLT, Bridge Refugee Services is a non-profit.
Drocella told the station this week that she and other group members “are training volunteers until the federal government confirms how many refugees will be sent to their Knoxville and Chattanooga locations, as well as when they will be arriving.”
“Bridge confirmed late last month that on August 12th, two Afghan people were relocated to East Tennessee,” WVLT reported.
Lee did not publicly state late last month whether he wants Tennessee to take in Afghan refugees. Two of the state’s other top Republicans, however, made their opinions known.
Tennessee Speaker of the House Cameron Sexton (R-Crossville) said he doubted whether taking in Afghan refugees is wise.
“I do not have confidence in the Biden administration’s vetting process concerning the refugee issue, much less his ability to work with law enforcement and immigration officials,” Sexton said.
“His administration has been a failure on both immigration and foreign policy. Therefore, I do not think it is a good idea for Tennessee to accept Afghan refugees.”
Lieutenant Governor Randy McNally (R-Oak Ridge), meanwhile, said it’s important that the government “halt illegal immigration, protect our borders and limit those entering our nation.”
“Afghanistan is a unique situation. For nearly 20 years, we have had a significant military presence there and solicited help from many inside the country to fight against the Taliban,” McNally said.
“Those that helped us are now at risk. Our nation should do everything it can to assist legitimate and authentic political refugees from Afghanistan in finding new places to call home.”
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