Photo Credit: Governor Bill Lee / Facebook
The Tennessee Conservative [By Jason Vaughn] –
With a decision made in December 2020, Lee authorized the continued resettlement of refugees across the state, making Tennessee one of only a few Republican-led states that allows resettlement of this nature.
Although Lee has stated that the federal government owes Americans a plan before anything can be considered in regards to taking Afghan refugees, his previously stated open-door policy for welcoming refugees appears to be alive and well as they are currently arriving and being relocated within the state.
In December 2020, the Trump administration gave Tennessee the option to decline allowing refugee resettlement in the state, but Lee agreed to “responsibly resettle refugees,” much to the chagrin of several Tennessee Republican legislators.
This is the same consent that opened the door to Tennessee becoming a drop-off point for immigrant minors coming to the state via Biden’s Border Crisis.
In a portion of a statement Lee made (regarding Kurdish refugees) to Fox 17 WZTV Nashville on January 8th, 2020, he said, “… I’m not turning my back on those people.”
Just this week, the American Muslim Advisory Council confirmed that nearly 300 Afghan refugees will be coming to the Nashville area. Catholic Charities will be hosting 150 of them and the Nashville International Center for Empowerment will be responsible for 140 more.
Nashville Mayor John Cooper tweeted on Tuesday that “America is a nation of immigrants, and Nashville will always be a welcoming city.”
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Last week, it was announced that 36 Afghan refugees would be relocated to Memphis set to arrive early this week. World Relief Memphis has been selected to receive the refugees and according to NewsChannel 3 WREG Memphis, they will do so with support of the City of Memphis and Shelby County.
The Commercial Appeal reports that more are expected to arrive in the next several months.
PJ Moore, director of World Relief Memphis, states that the newcomers will require heavy support and orientation to get through the early days in the new country, to find work and in some cases, to learn English.
Only 11 of those new arrivals are being admitted in the “special immigrant visa” category, which qualifies them for a wide range of federal aid, including money for food and other support.
An additional 25 people are being admitted as parolees, which means that they arrive without that support. To stay in the United States, they will have to apply for political asylum.
The mayors of Memphis and Shelby County have said they will work with World Relief Memphis to provide some of the necessary services to those refugees who don’t yet qualify for federal aid.
Bridge Refugee Services, with offices in Knoxville and Chattanooga, are set to receive an unknown number of refugees to be relocated to unknown locations in the state.
The Executive Director of Bridge, Drocella Mugorewera previously stated that they 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.”
The Tennessee Conservative has reached out to Bridge for clarity regarding state-level authorization of resettlement, state-level vetting and other concerns but have yet to receive word at the time of publication.
Meanwhile, the vetting process the federal government oversees is in question by some Tennessee Republican legislators.
House Speaker Cameron Sexton (R-Crossville), stated “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. 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.”
Politifact backs up this concern by stating that, “We have found in the past that no vetting system is foolproof, and there are challenges to collecting data even in settings less urgent than the airport in Kabul.”
About the Author: Jason Vaughn, Media Coordinator for The Tennessee Conservative ~ Jason previously worked for a legacy publishing company based in Crossville, TN in a variety of roles through his career. Most recently, he served as Deputy Directory for their flagship publication. Prior, he was a freelance journalist writing articles that appeared in the Herald Citizen, the Crossville Chronicle and The Oracle among others. He graduated from Tennessee Technological University with a Bachelor’s in English-Journalism, with minors in Broadcast Journalism and History. Contact Jason at news@TennesseeConservativeNews.com