State Department refugee officials in Tennessee this week

Update:  More accounts of the State Department’s trip to calm down the state of Tennessee over refugees, here and here.

I expect this was a mission to calm things down in a state, the only state!, that has taken action to set up a process to put a moratorium in place if a local community can’t handle the number of refugees the State Department is planning to send (with the help of federal contractors like Catholic Charities).

Here is the story:

A top U.S. State Department official, who spent two days in Tennessee discussing the state’s refugee resettlement program, said he wants to give communities a “louder voice in the process.”

“We believe it’s in the best interest of the United States that we pursue this program, but also we need to recognize the community nature of the program,” David Robinson*, acting assistant secretary of the Bureau of Population, Refugees, Migration, said during a news conference Thursday.

Robinson has been in the state for a two-day visit with community members, local government officials and employers to discuss the resettlement process.

The problem, Robinson said, is not about refugees but from people lumping refugees and immigrants — who often are associated with illegal immigration — in the same group.  Refugees are a very distinct subgroup of migrants, those who have a well-founded fear of persecution for reasons of race, religion, nationality, political opinion or membership in a particular social group and are brought here legally, he said.

“These are people we reached out to, people we identified as in need of a solution,” he said.  [LOL! Like the Kosovars we brought to the US for a Clinton/Gore photo-op only to send back again later, or how about more recently the Uzbeks we brought for some political reason of our own—ed]

Tennessee is the first and only state to pass a law** that mandates resettlement agencies to report quarterly to local governments and allows local communities to apply for a “moratorium” on refugee resettlement if those agencies overload local resources.

*Robinson, readers may recall, wrote a report for the National War College in 2000 in which he demonstrated how refugees were used as political pawns in Clinton’s Bosnian War.

** The Tennessee law is discussed here in case any other state wants a model!

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