Tennessee Moves Forward With Lawsuit to Refuse Refugees

'Don't let potential terrorists come to Tennessee'
By Michael Harthorne,  Newser Staff
Posted May 20, 2016 3:49 PM CDT
Tennessee Moves Forward With Lawsuit to Refuse Refugees
Demonstrators opposed to immigration restrictions protest outside the Senate Chamber February in Nashville, Tenn.   (AP Photo/Mark Humphrey)

Tennessee is poised to be the first state to sue the federal government to prevent the settlement of refugees, the Tennessean reports. On Friday, Gov. Bill Haslam refused to sign—but also refused to veto—a resolution passed resoundingly by the Tennessee legislature earlier this year. That lack of action allows the rest of the state government to move forward with a lawsuit against the federal government. The resolution calls on the state attorney general to sue the federal government. If the attorney general decides not to, the resolution says the legislature will hire its own lawyers to do so. Supporters of the resolution say they'll use a law firm that has previously challenged “abortionists, pornographers, those against school prayer, those against the Ten Commandments, those against God.”

Haslam has expressed a number of concerns about the resolution in the past, including whether or not the legislature has the authority to hire outside counsel to represent the state and letting a branch of the government tell the attorney general what to do, the AP reports. The attorney general's office hasn't said whether it will follow through on the lawsuit. But attorney general Herbert Slatery has in the past said the state legally can't refuse to accept refugees mandated by the federal government, according to WKRN. Opponents of the resolution say it will make life harder for refugees already living in Tennessee. “Attempting to block refugee resettlement blames refugees for the very terror they are fleeing," the Tennessean quotes an ACLU executive director as saying. The resolution was supported through an online petition titled "Don't let potential terrorists come to Tennessee." (Read more refugees stories.)

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