The state of Tennessee is taking its fight against the federal government’s program to send refugees inside its borders to the 6th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals because, its lawyer says, “the district court decision dismissing this case conflicts with several U.S. Supreme Court opinions upholding state sovereignty.”
The case originally was filed in 2017, and the announcement about the appeal was just made by officials with the Thomas More Law Center.
The legal team explained, “This case involves critical constitutional issues regarding the appropriate balance between the powers of the federal government and the states.”
Citing Supreme Court Chief Justice John Roberts’ admonition that “[t]he states are separate and independent sovereigns” and “sometimes they have to act like it,” the state authorized the law center to file the appeal.
The state officially withdrew from the federal refugee resettlement program in 2007, but “the government continues, to this day, to commandeer state tax dollars to fund it.”
It’s all part of the fight over the rampant admission of refugees that escalated to major levels under the administration of Barack Obama.
The dispute continues under the Trump administration, a result of the thousands of newcomers given passes to enter the country and then dumped into small communities across the nation.
The case originally was filed on behalf of the state of Tennessee, the Tennessee General Assembly, and state legislators Terri Lynn Weaver and John Stevens.
It charged that the Washington-centric refugee program is a violation of the principles of state sovereignty under the Tenth Amendment. The notice of appeal was filed Thursday with the U.S. District Court for the Western District of Tennessee. The appeal will be heard by a panel of the United States Circuit Court of Appeals for the Sixth Circuit.
“We are grateful to the designated representatives of the general assembly, state Reps. Terri Lynn Weaver and William Lamberth and state Sen. John Stevens for authorizing us to continue this significant legal battle,” said a statement from the legal team.
“This case involves critical constitutional issues regarding the appropriate balance between the powers of the federal government and the states. The district court decision dismissing this case conflicts with several U.S. Supreme Court opinions upholding State sovereignty against overreach by the federal government.”
The case seeks to stop the federal government from forcing Tennessee to fund the refugee resettlement program out of its own treasury.
A federal judge dismissed the case in March.
“Tennessee has a history of supporting the Tenth Amendment and state sovereignty,” the legal team explained. “In 2009, House Joint Resolution 108, which passed in the Senate 31-0 and in the House by 85-2, demanded that the federal government halt its practice of imposing mandates upon the states for purposes not enumerated by the U.S. Constitution.
“As Tennessee’s own President Andrew Jackson declared in his March 4, 1837, Farewell Address: ‘[E]very friend of our free institutions should be always prepared to maintain unimpaired and in full vigor the rights and sovereignty of the States and to confine the action of the General Government strictly to the sphere of its appropriate duties.'”
The Refugee Resettlement Act of 1980 was intended to provide for full federal reimbursement for the costs of resettled refugees, but those reimbursements simply were cut, and then in 1991 eliminated.
“The states thereby became responsible for the immense costs of the programs originally covered by the federal government.”
In the case of Tennessee, the federal bureaucrats simply appointed Catholic Charities of Tennessee, a private, non-governmental organization, to administer the program. Catholic Charities receives revenue based upon the number of refugees it brings into the state.
In effect, said the state of Tennessee, the U.S. Refugee Admissions Program amounted 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.
The suit’s language, crafted by Thomas More Law Center, was 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.”
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.