Photo: Governor Bill Lee
Photo Credit: Gov. Bill Lee / Facebook
Published May 25, 2021
The Tennessee Conservative Staff –
Many Tennesseans are confused by Governor Lee’s recent outspoken denouncement of Biden’s immigration policies when held in contrast to Lee’s previous statements and policies regarding “refugee resettlement” in Tennessee.
Many have voiced that Lee’s current statements are intended to redirect the public’s attention away from his own policies that opened up Tennessee to be a “border state” and in turn, a hub for the resettling of immigrants across the Southeast.
One such misdirection was in a reply email to a reader of the Tennessee Conservative dated March 15, 2021, in which the office of Tennessee Governor Bill Lee stated that they rejected the Biden Administration’s request to use Tennessee facilities to house illegal immigrants.
Our reader stated, “He (Lee) flat out lied to me. He told me in a March email that he had declined the Biden Administrations request to use TN. facilities because the federal government must secure our border. His words, I still have the email.”
While the Governor has recently publicly denounced Biden’s handling of the Southern Border situation and joined with 19 other Republican governors in a letter to the President stating that the administration’s policy changes and rhetoric have led to the ongoing crisis, Lee’s prior stance stands in sharp contrast.
In December 2019, Lee said in a statement: “The United States and Tennessee have always been, since the very founding of our nation, a shining beacon of freedom and opportunity for the persecuted and oppressed, particularly those suffering religious persecution.”
Lee went on to say, ““My administration has worked extensively to determine the best outcome for Tennessee, and I will consent to working with President Trump and his administration to responsibly resettle refugees.”
This sentiment was echoed in a letter to Secretary of State Mike Pompeo.
Despite Lee’s now publicly-touted stance on illegal immigration, his vocal opposition to Biden’s border policies has not slowed the influx of immigrants into Tennessee via an operation headed by the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services.
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Many Tennesseans expressed have their anger and feel misled by Governor Lee in statements they shared on social media.
Del Su Stephens Larson asks, “Why is he allowing this? The money?? TN citizens do not want this in their state.”
Carol Stoughton Tactac says, “I’ve supported Gov. Lee in many of his decisions for this state….BUT NOT THIS!!! End this now & send them all back and let them go through the legal process!”
Billy Kemmerling says, “Had high hopes that Bill was on the right track. Guess not. Tennessee will go to trash if enough are let in. This is the same as handing the state over to the democrats. How much were you paid Bill? Keep an eye on his lifestyle changes. Bet it will become more lavish. Look at his housing. Look at his cars. Look at where he frequents.”
Lee’s refugee resettlement policies have been echoed by Democratic leaders in some of Tennessee’s largest population centers.
As reported by the Tennessean, in November 2019 both Nashville Mayor John Cooper and then Knoxville Mayor Madeline Rogero sent letters to Secretary of State Mike Pompeo consenting to welcoming refugees.
Shelby County Mayor Lee Ardrey Harris later sent his own letter to Pompeo welcoming refugees to his county reaffirming his long-standing stance on the acceptance of refugees and making Shelby County a ‘Refuge for Refugees,” as reported by the Daily Memphian.
“When we have the ability to act, we have a moral duty to help those in need, those in dire circumstances,” Harris said. “Refugees embark on a perilous journey to find safety, and historically the U.S. has been ready to do its part to provide safe haven.
“We should continue to do our part to provide safety and save the lives of children and families,” Harris concluded.
In an article that originated with the Associated Press, and republished by FOX17 WZTV Nashville in January 2020, Governor Bill Lee cautioned members of the Republican party not to fall prey to “misinformation” about refugees, stressing that they are an oppressed group and are not “illegal immigrants.”
The article states that Lee declined an offer from the Trump Administration that would have allowed states and local governments the authority to stop resettling refugees.
Lee defended his actions to continue accepting refugees by stating, “if we don’t engage in the process, then we have no control over it whatsoever.”
Lee stated that if people want to come to Tennessee, they can resettle in another state and move “and we will not know who they are, we will not have any way to engage in their assimilation, and we will have no control over this process.”
“And you may like not having control over who comes into this state, but I don’t,” Lee continued, “I want to be engaged in this process. There is a right way to do this. And turning our backs to the process altogether is the wrong way to do it.”