Members of Tennessee’s Joint Refugee Study Committee were scheduled to meet Tuesday to get new information about the refugees currently making their way to Tennessee and how their arrival will impact the state.
But legislators will have to wait.
Due to lack of a meeting quorum, legislators had to reschedule.
State Representative Chris Todd (R-Madison County) serves on the joint committee. He said that when legislators convene he wants “a number of facts to get read into the record.”
Todd did not elaborate.
The Tennessee Star asked Todd if he and other committee members will discuss incoming refugees from Afghanistan only or refugees from all areas of the world.
“A variety,” Todd said.
“This would involve not only Afghan refugees. It would involve the unaccompanied alien children that we have discussed previously but also illegal immigrants in general that have come to our state over the years and maybe even continue to be brought here now by our government. Although we are not certain of those things. They [members of the federal government] don’t tell us.”
State Senator Dawn White (R-Murfreesboro) co-chairs the committee. She told The Star via email Monday that legislators will schedule the meeting at another and still undetermined time. White blamed the postponement on scheduling conflicts.
Governor Bill Lee’s Legislative Director Brent Easley was scheduled to speak at Tuesday’s meeting as was Lee’s Legislative Liaison Eric Mayo, according to an agenda sheet.
Officials with the Bridge Refugee Services as well as the Catholic Charities of East Tennessee — both based out of Chattanooga and Knoxville — were also supposed to speak.
Federal officials could release tens of thousands of Afghan refugees into the United States without a decision about their immigration status.
Since August, more than 55,000 Afghan refugees have traveled to the United States. Around 40 percent of them qualify for special immigrant visas, according to the Department of Homeland Security.
Last week Lee joined U.S. Senator Marsha Blackburn(R-TN) and U.S. Senator Bill Hagerty (R-TN) and demanded answers from the Biden administration regarding Afghan refugee resettlement.
Approximately 400 refugees await resettlement in Tennessee. State leaders, though, said they have received little information from the Biden administration.
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