Tennessee Sues Federal Government Over Refugee Program

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The State of Tennessee filed a lawsuit on Monday against the federal government, alleging that its administration of the refugee resettlement program violates the Tenth Amendment of the United States Constitution. Tennessee withdrew from the Refugee Resettlement Program in 2007, however has seen approximately 2,000 refugees resettled in the state this fiscal year alone.

The lawsuit is authorized by Senate Joint Resolution 467 last year, which urged legal action to stop the federal government from appropriating state funds to implement its refugee program. “Operation of the federal refugee resettlement program commandeers Tennessee’s funds through Medicaid with the threatened loss of nearly $7 billion, amounting to 20 percent of its overall state budget – money that is needed fund services that are critical to the health and welfare of countless Tennesseans,” explained Tennessee’s legal counsel in the complaint.

Senator John Stevens (R-24) and Representative Terri Lynn Weaver (R-40) also joined the lawsuit. “The Constitution does not allow the Federal Government to force me as the elected representative of the 24th Senate District to implement federal programs while they sit in Washington insulated from the consequences,” commented Senator Stevens.

Tennessee is the first state to sue over the refugee program on Tenth Amendment grounds. The Tenth Amendment reserves all powers that are not delegated to the United States by the Constitution to the states. Texas and Alabama also separately sued the federal government over its refugee program last year and had their claims dismissed by the courts. Both states, however, sued the federal government on different legal grounds.

In its complaint, Tennessee asks the court to issue a declaratory judgment affirming the federal government has exceeded its power and halt any additional resettlement of refugees until the federal government absorbs all costs for the program. The state also asks to recover costs and attorney’s fees acquired as a result of this lawsuit.


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Dan is the Federation for American Immigration Reform (FAIR)'s President after joining the organization in 1982. He has testified more than 50 times before Congress, and been cited in the media as "America's best-known immigration reformer." Dan has appeared on virtually every significant TV and radio news/talk program in America and, in addition to being a contributing editor to ImmigrationReform.com, has contributed commentaries to a vast number of print media outlets.


  1. avatar

    Where are these unwanted immagrants being settled in Tennessee? I think as a Tennessee resident I have the right to know! I want to protect my grandkids.

  2. avatar

    As a Tennessee resident I am quite proud of the legislature’s action. The state Attorney General refused to file the suit but the legislature has retained outside legal representation. Now we just need to get rid of the Attorney General who has a history of siding with the liberal agenda. When Tennessee opted out of the refugee program, the federal government began working with a private group associated with the Catholic Church to dump “refugees’ into Tennessee – obviously against the will of the state. That “charitable” organization gets a per person fee for taking these people into the sate of Tennessee. Then they dump those relocated onto the state for support. It is certainly ironic that only a fraction of a percent (less than 1 in 100) of those coming here under this program are Christians. It would appear that this Catholic organization is more interested in making money than in helping Christians

    • avatar
      Glenn Shannon on

      Obama along with the Catholic church has done a lot of damage to this country. The Catholic church to me should be paying for the poor as they went thru Africa, south America and Mexico preaching to have as many kids as you wanted but left out the thing of being able to support them. Guess as long as they turned Catholic they didn’t care as long as the membership continued to grow. Remember my sister who changed Catholic when she got married and a year later the priest

      • avatar
        Glenn Shannon on

        Was cut off so have to continue here, the priest asked her what was wrong with her as she wasn’t P.G. yet.

    • avatar
      Don Richardson on

      Follow the dollars, as they say, follow the money. If you goal cannot be accomplished by doing it yourself, pay someone else to do it.
      This should be very close to the top of the list in the DRAIN THE SWAMP campaign, quit spending taxpayers money to bring in refugees.
      The churches are merely mercenaries in this venture, making money by trafficking aliens (‘refugees’).

  3. avatar
    Barbara Griffith on

    All states need to join with Tennessee to try to get the refugee program shut down completely. The U.S. taxpayers are under no obligation to take in any refugees at all. The organizations that work with the UN to bring thousands of refugees here make at least $500,00 a year and its all taxpayer dollars they are paid with. So the U.S taxpayers are subsidizing these refugees along with paying for them forever on welfare.
    Another thing, is the fact that California would be able to pay a its bills if the taxpayers didn’t have to support half of Mexico. E-Verify mandatory.

    • avatar
      cynthia curran on

      In California places like Kern and Orange which don’t like the program as much are held hostage because of the liberals in the Bay area and Los Angeles, but I now have hope since Trump is in office.

  4. avatar
    Barbara Griffith on

    All anyone has to do is take a hard look at what is happening to the EU it is disappearing under the load of refugees that they have allowed to enter all of the countries for decades. The refugees have taken over large portions of towns and now have no-go zones where the police are not allowed to enter they have sharia law operating in all of these towns and cities. London has a Muslim mayor which is something I never thought could happen.

    • avatar
      Glenn Shannon on

      Same thing is already happening here is parts of Michigan and Minnesota with the Muslims.

  5. avatar

    The county where I live has a population of 250,000 people. The news is that without the federal dollars subsidizing Obamacare in the county, Medicaid/Medi-Cal, the county will lose $100million. The county admitted that more than one-third of its subsidy programs go to undocumented residents. Our federal laws are quite explicit on giving taxpayers’ money to non citizens, remember this issue was debated strenuously when the affordable care act was on the table. My state, California, loves undocumented workers, and loves giving the money of taxpayers to those who have never paid a dime to support schools or services, yet take jobs and public assistance. I am wondering if the new Attorney General could find a criminal case here, in giving federal funds contrary to federal law.

  6. avatar

    In a round about way, this requiring Tennessee to fund the settlement of Refugees also requires the state of Tennessee to “Tax me” more in order to pay for this “Federal law” of resettlement at the “exclusion” of other tax payers across the nation.

    This clearly violates the Constitution in that it not an apportion tax as required by the Constitution.

  7. avatar

    Maybe states should start suing Liberal judges and Demonrats in general for bringing these so-called refugees here.

    • avatar

      Actually Patricia,all the States should sue Obama and the Democrats in Congress that approved his agenda in bringing in all this illegals in the first place and these liberal Judges that is blocking Trumps’ plan to stop the flow of immigrates.no Judge ever blocked Obama and any of this agenda’s he passed

  8. avatar

    George Clooney is always criticizing Trump about us taking in more refugees. All the typical Hollywood righteousness. How come he’s not offering to take some in at his spacious European lakeside chateau. He’s just another limousine liberal, living behind walls with security guards and dropping a thousand dollars for dinner at the latest hot restaurant, and all the while looking down his nose at the people who have seen their neighborhoods decline and their jobs go to foreigners willing to work for far less money.

    • avatar

      Completely agree. Hollywood mentality reminds me of E.A. Poe’s “The Masque of the Red Death”. They think they can hide behind their money, but the deadly plague infiltrating anti-American “refugees” will certainly not spare Hollywood.

    • avatar

      Well more than have the country would have to move, and the land would be left worse than a 3rd World Country……NY, CA etc the main financial engines……

      • avatar

        I meant based on the elections results……regarding the refugee situation I agree it is out of hand….I misunderstood you SWE….

      • avatar

        A “3rd world country”? That’s exactly where we were headed under Obama, our current President was elected to bring back law and order to OUR country.

        • avatar

          Really ….. you need to travel …. and perhaps get a job to understand/realize what it takes to make a living…..and become more financially/socially & culturally educated about our country …

          When the youth have to work and live in their parents homes at the age of 35+ and or hadly support themselves for a month salary that barely pays for rent and food….in addition they have no higher education and no desire to improve themselves…….it is a 3rd World Country…..like in many places nowadays in the US…in my time one week of work I saved for the rent n most expenses…….

          • avatar

            and Obama inherited the mess from Bush and now Trump from Obama but he is making mess and probably np different from Obama by the time he is done he will 10X the debt and jobs lost…..it is all a mere smoke screen….I hope I wrong……now it is called trump care or Republican care….Obama is gone …. and now they own the place and their failures and successes if any …

      • avatar
        cynthia curran on

        Not really, outside of New York City, New York does worst than Texas. Same for Ca, outside of the Bay Area Ca is not much of an economic powerhouse. Poverty is 5 times worst in Los Angeles than Des Moines because of the cost of living.