Lee announces Tennessee will keep accepting resettled refugees

Gov. Bill Lee speaks at a groundbreaking event in Nashville on Dec. 13, 2019. (Erik Schelzig, Tennessee Journal)

First-year Gov. Bill Lee says he won’t seek to opt-out of the federal government’s refugee resettlement program in Tennessee. President Trump in September issued an executive order giving state and local governments control over whether to continue to allow refugees to be resettled in their areas.

“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 said in a release. “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.”

Senate Speaker Randy McNally (R-Oak Ridge) and House Speaker Cameron Sexton (R-Crossville) issued a joint statement to say their preference would have been for Lee to reject further resettlement:

“Both our nation and the state of Tennessee have been extremely welcoming to immigrants throughout modern history. In 2016, the General Assembly adopted a resolution expressing the desire of our citizens to file a federal lawsuit to halt refugee resettlement in Tennessee. Our opinion has not changed on this issue since legal action was taken, and our personal preference would have been to exercise the option to hit the pause button on accepting additional refugees in our state. However, the federal order makes this the sole decision of the Governor, and he has made his call.”

79 Responses to Lee announces Tennessee will keep accepting resettled refugees

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    LeeAnn C. says:

    Very disappointing. I’m afraid many will respond to this situation now – when it’s too late. Thankful for House Speaker Cameron Sexton and Lt. Governor Randy McNally’s stance.

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      Lenny says:

      Those welfare queens are getting nice per diems during these “budget hearings”. Merry Christmas!

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        Lenny says:

        Welfare queens in the general assembly – NOT immigants – need MORE per diem money. They have to buy them taxis after they leave all their liquor Christmas Parties in Nashville. Mmm Eggnog

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      Pam webb says:

      Agree .. Lee should have never agreed to this .. he will be a 1 term govern

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        Stuart I. Anderson says:

        Pam, do you like to do research into ancient history? When is the last time Tennessee had a one term governor? I agree with your sentiment, however, I just think it would be better if Tennesseans simply stopped voting for wealthy political novices to the highest political offices in this state in the first place.

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    John W Niven Jr says:

    You know what people keep forgetting ?
    When this nation was first founded with immigrants, many years ago, there was no public assistance. Health insurance didn’t exist. Those immigrants came knowing they would have to make their own way; fend for themselves, because the government wasn’t going to do it. Well, they did make their own way and they should be proud if it. That is not to say that all immigrants coming in today expect government assistance. Most don’t But I’m really tired of hearing about this is a nation of immigrants and all those references to the immigrants that started this country. That was an ENTIRELY DIFFERENT group of people.

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    Steven Roberts says:

    Very disappointed! I supported you but will not now!

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      Stuart I. Anderson says:

      But Steven, have you learned something for the future? Do you see how foolish it was to support a No Record Candidate like Bill Lee for a high office like governor when there was a reasonable proven tepid conservative alternative like Diane Black? Hopefully this disappointment will lead you to vote against No Record Candidate Chairman Manny next August.

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      MARLE says:

      Stuart likes to KNOW ahead of time how his candidates will vote and that’s why he supported the Wishy Washy Rep Candidate for Senate who ran on the promise of deporting ONLY the Criminals (she apparently doesn’t consider breaking into the country criminal) and leaving the other 18 Million to continue to live and work here forever. So we see where Stuart stands on the issue of illegal immigration.

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        Stuart I. Anderson says:

        Right you are MARLE, Stuart indeed “. . .likes to know ahead of time how his candidates will vote. . .” but the reasonable person understands that predicting the future is a game fraught with uncertainty especially regarding human behavior. In the case of Marsha, unfortunately she is to the left of me regarding immigration but then again I have no fear of alienating cheap labor advocates because I don’t hold public office. Marsha has disappointed me before, how can I forget her capitulation to “Uniter” Bush by being one of the deciding votes that inflicted the expansion of Medicare to cover prescription drugs on this country, and she will do so again. Marsha has a Heritage score of 85%. My Heritage score would be in the mid to high 90’s if I were in Congress. On the other hand, the last time I supported her she had a Heritage score of about 82% as I recall which has now risen to 85% so I am happy to report I thought I was going to get a solid conservative when I last voted for Marsha and by gosh that’s exactly what I got.

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          James White says:

          Stuart supports the ‘War Party’, Republicans/Democrats that always vote for more war.
          Stuart. all of your record Heritage traitors voted for the NDDA 2020 bill. 3,500 pages long, only 19 hours to read, The $738 Billion bill, Surveillance, Space Force, and Indefinite Detention bill is a multi-billion dollar boondoggle masquerading as a defense appropriation. Shameful unconstitutional votes of Heritage puppets.

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    Larry K Frankenbach says:

    Just when Governor Lee had an opportunity to interrupt the flow of illegal immigrants into our state, he settles for status quo. Wrong call, sir. Our history is just that…history. Our future is what is at stake here and we do not need more illegal immigrants from any country, of any race, or with any particular religion in Tennessee until we debate specific reforms of the immigration laws. Our liberal laws are being abused and the communities of Islamic immigrants, in particular, are growing more dangerous every year. This would have been a good time to shut it down so the legislators could hear the voices and positions of their constituents on this issue.

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      James White says:

      Don’t confuse Federal settled refugees with illegal immigrants.

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        MARLE says:

        I am not confusing them. I am simply saying that “knowing what a politician says”, opposing it on principle, then voting for them anyway is just as misguided as voting for them without a record. Either way, on Major issues, you get something that is bad, very bad, for the country. Marsha has been wrong on the TaxPlan ’17, wrong on trade war in supporting Trump’s tariffs-on-the-world approach (Club for Growth does like it either BTW) wrong on immigration etc etc etc.

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        Perry Aubric says:

        James is right here. Refugee is a specific category of legal immigration, requiring pretty rigorous screening and specific standards, which have been toughened under the current administration. You would think from the comments here that Lee declared Tennessee a “sanctuary state” for illegal immigrants. That is simply false.

        Those on the right are always saying they are for legal immigration and that they welcome those who come here legally and obey the laws to get here. Anyone with refugee status has done that. But the comments from the right on this thread reveal a sad reality: they are just against immigrants period. All immigrants.

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          Stuart I. Anderson says:

          I think a majority of conservatives want a complete immigration moratorium until we have a chance to integrate the immigrants who have come here through our porous borders over the previous decades making an exception for those with skills REALLY in critical need by this country i.e. no more H1b cheap labor scams.

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          Donna Locke says:

          It is not possible to do rigorous screening on refugees. You put out a lot of inaccurate statements, Perry. When I have time later, I will comment further, perhaps on the newer post.

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          Robert Branam says:

          Screened by who? Do you consider all those Sammies in Minnesota to be law abiding?
          How about little Mecca up there in Michigan? Is that what you want here?
          Id rather have the illegal Latinos than I would the federal refugees. At least they believe in the same God. Most of them are Catholics, not women beating, child bride raping Muslims who will never intigrate into our way of life.

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      Mel says:

      You are correct

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    Robert says:

    I’m from immigrants who came to this country around 1900. My grandfathers father had to get a job felling trees in Michigan to support his family, he kept very little of his paycheck for himself and sent the bulk of it to support his family in New York City. There weren’t all these federal handouts back then, so they took care of themselves.

    Fast forward some years and his lumber jack job eventually paid for a 600 acre farm in Michigan, something unattainable back in Ireland. While being proud of his Irish heritage, he was prouder of being a free American.

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    Jeanne Sapp says:

    Why in the world would Tennessee accept more refugees when the literacy rate is below the national average and there are poor families who need help. Accepting refugees is a recipe for disaster. It depletes welfare and other kinds of Aid that our own Citizens need. Do not accept more refugees, especially those who refuse to assimilate and who come only to abuse our system and not become productive members of our society.

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    Frankie Duke says:

    I voted for you but will not vote for you again

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      Stuart I. Anderson says:

      Too late Frankie, he’s in for another seven years. The only thing to do is to resolve NEVER, EVER to support a No Record Candidate for high office again. The next chance to not vote for a No Record Candidate will come next August when Chairman Manny is on the ballot for U. S. Senator by voting for Bill Hagerty.

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    Chiron Venizelos says:

    Governor Lee:

    I am so very sad to learn you have sold out your principles in exchange for some Federal tax dollars. You have betrayed your promise to the people who valiantly supported you and worked to elect you. I am ashamed to admit that I was one of those people.

    Chiron Venizelos

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      Stuart I. Anderson says:

      “Promises” made during a campaign are not promises in terms of commitments that normal people make to each other. They are nothing but tactics conjured up by campaign managers with the aid of their campaign staff. That’s why its a mug’s game to choose a candidate for high office like governor by paying attention to campaign promises.

      The best way to judge what a candidate will do once elected is to learn what he has done POLITICALLY before deciding to run. In the case of Gov. Lee he did NOTHING politically before deciding to buy himself a governorship. His campaign promises were conjured up by Chris Devaney who managed Lee’s campaign. Chris is doing the same thing for No Record Candidate Chairman Manny. Have you learned a lesson that will serve you well come next August?

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    Arnold Tayes says:

    Gov. Lee, Do you have the money for them to live off welfare for the rest of their lives?

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    Kathy J Everetts says:

    What’s the real reason for this betrayal of the American citizens, did you find out you can make more money by selling out to the likes of George Soros? How shamful!

    • Avatar
      Stuart I. Anderson says:

      Lee’s a very wealthy man with obviously no guiding political philosophy so he doesn’t need Soros’ money nor is he constrained by any political convictions. He is in this thing for ADULATION and you don’t get adulation by going against a major tenet of out state religion, viz. “DIVERSITY IS OUR STRENGTH.”

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        MARLE says:

        Politicians who try to earn their way to heaven with other people’s money are the worst. When I listened to interviews with John Kasich as he ran for presidential nomination I thought the very same thing.

    • Avatar
      Mel says:

      Soros is behind this, and not only Tennessee, but has targeted other states as well.

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    James White says:

    Not much the State can do if the Feds put refugees here.

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      Stuart I. Anderson says:

      James, the whole point of the article is “President Trump in September issued an executive order giving state and local governments control over whether to continue to allow refugees to be settled in their areas.” Lee has made a decision pursuant to that control and you are saying “Never mind you don’t have that control.” Who’s right, Erik and Gov. Lee or you?

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    B. Amish says:

    We have actively been considering relocating to Tennessee.
    This development is one that will most likely steer us to another state we have been considering.
    The research I have done while considering Tennessee as our retirement location has turned up a few disturbing things but this decision will likely make our decision to spend our $ in another state.

    • Avatar
      Stuart I. Anderson says:

      If you are a solid conservative please reconsider! Lee was only elected with 37% of the votes so it won’t take too many more of us who would never consider voting for a No Record Candidate like Lee for a high office like governor.

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    John Stewart says:

    One can’t help but be struck by all these anti-immigrant comments arising from Gov. Lee’s decision to keep Tennessee as one of the states willing to accept immigrants. With Christmas just days away, the Governor opted not to hang out a “no room at the inn” sign at our border. That strikes me as entirely appropriate for the Christmas season. Those who apparently do not share this belief, or who are totally blind to the actual facts related to immigrants, the vast majority of whom become tax-paying contributing members of our state, need to brush up on what the Bible actually says–repeatedly– about welcoming the foreigner or the dispossessed. It’s clear and it’s basic. I applaud the governor’s decision.

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      steve cates says:

      Thanks so much for this well-stated comment, with which I totally agree. This is a side of Lee I have not seen in action and I hope this may lead him to reconsider his decision NOT to support medicaid expansion.

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        Stuart I. Anderson says:

        I sort of agree with you Steve, I would like conservatives who were misguided enough to support No Record Candidate Lee instead of Black to really learn their lesson. What is done is done, Lee will be in for the usual eight years that Tennessee governors serve in office and there is no chance that our conservative General Assembly will agree to medicaid expansion so if Lee is going to be a Republican “wet” let him be soaking “wet” so the lesson hits home with full force.

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    Donna Locke says:

    Bad decision.

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      Stuart I. Anderson says:

      Very true Donna, but I hope the 37% of the voters who elected No Record Candidate Bill Lee didn’t elect him because they thought he would stand up to the bien pensant and do the right thing.

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    Donna Locke says:
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    D Boyd says:

    charity begins at home,not in another place!

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    Dion Mountain says:

    We have had immigration into this country until there very little of the country I once knew. As a kid we actually were taught to appreciate what we had and not look to the government for our needs. It was a much better way of life then. Being tough didn’t hurt anyone if fact it is needed. I would hate to have to depend on these free loaders if war came. They have no skin in the game and would only serve to keep the original people depressed. They bring such burdens Why do you think they want to leave their country. Because they have to actually work there!

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    Steve says:

    When these refugees you are bringing in start killing, raping and robbing it is on you Gov.

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    Penny Hawk says:

    Will not vote for Lee next election. We don’t need more welfare recipients in TN.

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      Stuart I. Anderson says:

      Leading up to the 2018 elections I begged conservatives not to vote for Lee for the simple reason that you don’t let some rich bloke who has shown little to no interest in politics stroll up and buy himself a governorship just because his campaign manager has come up with an appealing campaign. It doesn’t make any difference who you vote for in 2022, LEE DOESN’T NEED YOUR VOTE ANYMORE. Now the question is watcha gonna do in 2020 re: the U. S. Senate race?

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      Mel says:

      Will not vote for him either.

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    Billy says:

    Just another politician not representing his constituents. Vote him out.

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    Edmund Rogers says:

    Terrible decision. Tennessee doesn’t need the world’s largely illiterate, almost wholly unskilled rubbish. No state does.

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    Jim Ward says:

    Guess we should have voted for Randy……

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      Stuart I. Anderson says:

      NOOOOOOOO Jim. BLACK (Heritage – 77%). Proven tepid conservative trumps No Record Candidate any day. Besides, don’t you remember, its “Randy(!)”

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    Phil Lassiter says:

    This Governor officially sucks and is a sell out and has no idea what he is inviting into our State. Screw talk of compassion, etc.

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    Robert Kimble says:

    Huge disappointment! I can’t believe he is doing this. Can he not see what this is doing to other communities?

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      Stuart I. Anderson says:

      No Robert he can’t. He is a very rich politically unsophisticated man who lives on a big farm or perhaps in a seriously gated community and is in this for adoration so I bet he doesn’t really care. The question to ask any individual who was part of the 37% that voted for him is “I know what you were feeling, but man, what were you thinking”?

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    Ricky Hatcher says:

    What’s the matter with this fool! Will not get my vote again!

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    Beatrice Shaw says:

    Good move, Governor Lee. I have seen some really right wing things here in Tennessee, but you continually impress me as a voice of reason. We need to accept refugees and help them with food, housing and free tuition….things they would never have access to in their home countries. Tennessee is really showing itself to be different than the good ole boy country image it’s ha with country music, KK and anti labor. Does anyone know where I can go volunteer or donate to help refugees?

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      Stuart I. Anderson says:

      How about Stockholm Beatrice, they love refugees there! So much in fact that Swedes should be a minority in their own country by about 2040. As for Gov. Lee, he will win a second term even with Bleeding Heart Beatrice’s support though it will admittedly be a bit more difficult.

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    David Collins says:

    Most of you seem to forget. If you are not a member or descendant of one of the original American Indian tribes, then you are an immigrant or the descendant of an immigrant.

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      Stuart I. Anderson says:

      Which I am sure means something to someone, somewhere. Mass immigration is so indefensible that its advocates are forced to rely on meaningless unarguments such as the one offered by David as if the conditions in the U. S. today bear any resemblance to the conditions that were present in 1840, 1890, or even 1920 or 1950.

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        David Collins says:

        It is not indefensible at all. It’s the truth. I find it amusing that your argument in this case is that my statement does not apply because it is “as if the conditions in the U.S. today bear any resemblance to the conditions that were present in 1840, 1890, or even 1920 or 1950.” Yet you are quick to condemn the Supreme Court if they give a contemporary interpretation to a provision of the Constitution and insisting that the document must always be deemed to mean what it meant in 1776. Can’t have it both ways Stuart Face it. This country was established (I’m sure the Native Indian tribes would say “stolen”) by immigrants. Your fore bearers came here to make a better way of life for themselves and their families. And in most cases they succeeded. Yet you want to deny this opportunity to anyone else who wants to come here for the same reasons.

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          Donna Locke says:

          Mass immigration and a welfare state don’t mix. For long.

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            James White says:

            Donna, you may want to check the #USMCA, Chapter 15 of the USMCA, entitled “Cross-Border Trade in Services,” and specifically, Article 23.8, under the section labeled “Migrant Workers” in Chapter 23 of the #USMCA, requires the United States, Mexico, and Canada to “ensure that migrant workers are protected under its labor laws, whether they are nationals or non-nationals” of the country they are residing in. The term “non-nationals” could easily be applied to not just undocumented aliens or “Dreamers” from Mexico, but also to illegal migrants from non-USMCA countries, such as Guatemala, Honduras, El Salvador, India, or China.

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