Of all the recent state lawsuits filed against the federal government’s refugee resettlement program, which annually distributes tens of thousands of Third World migrants to more than 300 U.S. cities and towns, the one filed by Tennessee might be the most significant.
Tennessee doesn’t just ask the feds to do a better job of “vetting” refugees or to “consult” more closely with state officials, like the failed lawsuits filed by Alabama and Texas. Tennessee attacks the program at its core, challenging the federal government’s self-proclaimed right to secretly plant foreign nationals of its own choosing – and the choosing of the United Nations – into U.S. cities and towns. Tennessee contends this is a blatant violation of the 10th Amendment and an unconstitutional infringement on state sovereignty.
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The 10th Amendment says the federal government possesses only those powers delegated to it by the U.S. Constitution, with all other powers reserved for the states.
Tennessee filed its lawsuit in March, and the U.S. Department of Justice filed a motion to dismiss the case in June claiming the state was seeking to stop the influx of refugees as part of a discriminatory policy that treats refugees as inferior to other immigrants.
But the state claims just the opposite. In its 33-page answer, filed July 14, Tennessee claims the only reason it felt compelled to sue the feds was because the feds were demanding that states grant refugees special rights and special favor not available to other immigrants.
An unfunded mandate?
In effect, says the state of Tennessee, the U.S. Refugee Admissions Program amounts to an unfunded mandate – as the feds dump refugees on states without providing federal funding for the costs associated with refugee resettlement. Those costs include education, health care and housing, not to mention additional police protection, says the Thomas More Law Center, a Michigan-based nonprofit that provides legal aid in cases that uphold America’s Judeo-Christian heritage, the sanctity of life and U.S. sovereignty.
“Elected officials have little say over the process [of refugee resettlement],” writes Ann Corcoran, who has been tracking refugee resettlement for over a decade.
If successful, Corcoran said, Tennessee’s suit would cut the legs out from under the program by attacking its funding. She said other states, like South Dakota and Texas, which have been trying to get control of their budgets with regard to refugees, should be joining Tennessee in this suit.
‘Preferential treatment’ for refugees
The suit’s language, crafted by Thomas More Law Center, is clear:
“Attempting to escape the fact that the refugee resettlement program is funded by the States, defendants erroneously lump refugees in with other lawfully present aliens and then assert that all of them are the responsibility of a State’s Medicaid program. This argument ignores the fact that the federal government has conferred preferential treatment on refugees, which leaves them situated more favorably than immigrants admitted through regular means.”
Generally, “[s]elf-sufficiency has been a basic principle of United States immigration law since this country’s earliest immigration statutes,” states the U.S. code 8 U.S.C. Section 1601(1), and thus other categories of lawful immigrants to the United States are required to make certain showings as to their financial self-sufficiency as a condition to immigrating.
In fact, 8 U.S.C. Section 1182 (a)(4)(A) states: “Any alien who … is likely at any time to become a public charge is inadmissible.”
The lawsuit continues:
(“[A]liens within the Nation’s borders [should] not depend on public resources to meet their needs, but rather rely on their own capabilities and the resources of their families, their sponsors, and private organizations.”) In contrast, the Refugee Resettlement Act imposes no such self-sufficiency requirement and mandates that refugees be deemed eligible for enrollment in Medicaid immediately upon arrival and for a period of up to seven years thereafter.
45 C.F.R. § 400.94(c) (“A State must provide medical assistance under the Medicaid and SCHIP programs to all refugees eligible under its State plans.”); See 8 U.S.C. § 1612(a)(2)(A)(i) (establishing seven-year limit).
As such, it is improper to say that refugees are simply another part of the lawfully present immigrant population for which states would otherwise be responsible. To the contrary, refugee populations are an economically disadvantaged population who are admitted to the country without regard to their economic status and who are allowed to immediately access welfare benefits.
If the refugee resettlement program was terminated along with refugees’ favored status under federal welfare laws, it would mean refugees would not be eligible for admission without regard to their economic condition, and they would not be eligible for Medicaid until they had lived in the United States for five years, just like most other types of immigrants, according to the suit.
The government’s “special treatment of refugees may very well serve a legitimate federal goal, but it is just that: a federal goal,” the Tennessee brief states.
The federal government cannot constitutionally force “state governments to absorb the financial burden of implementing a federal … program” while the federal government takes “credit for ‘solving’ problems.”
The state’s argument, concludes that the feds “merely seek to have the federal government absorb the costs that it is currently passing on to states like Tennessee.”
Tennessee’s refugee resettlement program is operated by Catholic Charities, which is one of nine federal contractors the U.S. government pays more than $2,000 for every refugee they resettle in U.S. cities and towns. The resettlements are carried out devoid of any required input from elected city representatives, who answer to local taxpayers.
Since the Refugee Act of 1980 was passed by Congress and signed into law by President Jimmy Carter, more than 3 million refugees have been permanently resettled in the U.S. from dozens of Third World countries. More than 90 percent of refugees entering the U.S. are hand-selected by the United Nations.