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Tennessee Selects Thomas More Law Center to Represent State in Lawsuit Against Feds to Stop Refugees

The Tennessee General Assembly has selected the Thomas More Law Center to represent the state in its lawsuit against the federal government over the resettlement of refugees in the Volunteer State.

The Ann Arbor, Michigan based nonprofit public interest law firm made the announcement in a press statement released on Tuesday.

The Thomas More Law Center will represent the state free of charge in the “constitutional challenge to the federal government’s refugee resettlement program as a violation of the Tenth Amendment to the U.S. Constitution.”

Tennessee is one of twelve states that have withdrawn from the federal refugee resettlement program in which it is operated by the federal government under the statutorily-questionable Wilson Fish alternative program. Texas is the thirteenth state to withdrawn from the federal program, effective in January. Two additional states, Vermont and Massachusetts, allow the federal government to resettle refugees within their boundaries under the Wilson Fish alternative program, but have not withdrawn from the federal program.

In April, as the Thomas More Law Center statement notes,”the Tennessee General Assembly, by overwhelming majorities in both the House and Senate, passed Senate Joint Resolution 467 (“SJR 467”) during the 2016 legislative session. The Resolution authorized legal action to stop the federal government’s violation of the Tenth Amendment to the U.S. Constitution because it impermissibly commandeers state funds to finance a federal program.”

“At issue is state sovereignty. Our rights and responsibilities under the Tenth Amendment to the U.S. Constitution and the Tennessee Constitution are at stake. We seek a declaration of these rights. Indifference to our constitutional rights is indifference to our duty. We are not indifferent,” State Senator Mark Norris (R-Collierville), who took the lead in writing and introducing the resolution, said.

“Of all the legislation that I have worked on, this by far is the most important. The only way we can get back to our Constitutional Beginnings and the intent birthed by our Founding Fathers, is to go and take it back. We are looking forward to linking arms with the Thomas More Law Firm for the long haul to regain sovereignty for our great state,” State Rep. Terri Lynn Weaver (R-Lancaster) who championed the resolution in the House, said.

“At issue is state sovereignty. Our rights and responsibilities under the Tenth Amendment to the U.S. Constitution and the Tennessee Constitution are at stake. We seek a declaration of these rights. Indifference to our constitutional rights is indifference to our duty. We are not indifferent,” State Senator Mark Norris (R-Collierville), who took the lead in writing and introducing the resolution, said.

Richard Thompson, president and chief counsel of the Thomas More Law Center, said he was pleased to represent the state of Tennessee in the litigation.

“It’s an honor to represent the state of Tennessee on this significant constitutional issue. Supreme Court Chief Justice Roberts observed, ‘The States are separate and independent sovereigns. Sometimes they have to act like it.’ We intend to follow that advice on behalf of Tennessee in our lawsuit,” Thompson said.

After Senate Joint Resolution 467 was passed by the Tennessee House and the Tennessee Senate, Lt. Gov. Ron Ramsey (Speaker of the Senate) and Tennessee House Speaker Beth Harwell appointed two members of the Senate and two members of the House to implement the resolution.

State Senator Mark Norris and State Senator John Stevens (R-Huntingdon) represented the State Senate, and Rep. William Lamberth (R-Cottontown) and Rep. Terri Lynn Weaver represented the Tennessee House.

“I look forward to working with the Thomas More Law Center as we pursue a Judicial remedy to this issue that will ensure the safety and security of all Tennesseans, ” Lamberth said.

In its statement, the Thomas More Law Center said it ” intends to advance a legal claim of first impression to challenge federal refugee resettlement programs operating in states which have formally withdrawn from participation in the federal refugee resettlement program, but are nevertheless still forced by federal regulations to pay state taxpayer dollars to finance programs administered by private organizations.”

Currently, state funds that could otherwise be used for state programs are in effect appropriated by the federal government to support refugee resettlement rather than to support Tennesseans. This arrangement displaces Tennessee’s constitutionally mandated funding prerogatives and appropriations process.

In FY 2016, 1,956 of the 85,000 refugees resettled in the United States were resettled in Tennessee, according to the Department of State’s interactive website.

Five hundred and thirty-one refugees arrived from the Democratic Republic of the Congo, 309 from Iraq, 246 from Syria, and 236 from Somalia.

In the first twenty-four days of October, 186 refugees have been resettled in Tennessee, which, on an annualized basis would result in the resettlement of 2,828 refugees in the state during FY 2017.

The Tennessee Office for Refugees, a subsidiary of Catholic Charities of Tennessee, operates the refugee resettlement program in Tennessee on behalf of the federal government.

The Center for Immigration Studies recently estimated that refugees cost taxpayers in the state of Tennessee $165 million annually in unfunded federal mandates. Among those expenses are payments made by the state to cover health expenses of refugees, including those treated for active and latent tuberculosis (TB).

As Breitbart News reported previously, 27 percent of refugees who arrived in Tennessee during the five year period from 2011 to 2015 tested positive for latent TB infection.

Two cases of multi-drug resistant TB were diagnosed among refugees resettled in Tennessee over the past three years.

Neither the Tennessee Department of Health nor the Tennessee Office for Refugees have released data on the total number of refugees resettled in Tennessee who have been diagnosed with active TB.

As Breitbart News reported previously, 304 refugees have been diagnosed with active TB in fifteen states over the past six years.

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