Although stymied by the courts at other levels, the important Tenth Amendment case involving the Constitutional challenge against the federal government’s ever increasing cost-shifting to the states for the care of refugees is still alive.
There was a time when I thought that the political process was the place to change refugee policy in America, but truthfully I am seeing little hope of any real change as Trump enters his fourth year in the White House.
Cutting the number of admissions is fine, but no real structural changes have been sought for the UN/US Refugee Admissions Program by the administration. (The governor approval process seriously backfired, and Congress is useless as members cower in fear of being called racists.)
Maybe there is still some hope that the courts will see how unfair and unconstitutional it is for states to carry a financial burden placed on them by the feds.
Eagle Forum Files Brief Supporting Thomas More Law Center’s ‘Federalism Challenge’ to Tennessee Refugee Resettlement Program
ANN ARBOR, MI – The Eagle Forum and its Tennessee chapter added their influential voices urging the U.S. Supreme Court to grant the Thomas More Law Center’s request to review (“petition for certiorari”) a Sixth Circuit Court decision which held that the Tennessee General Assembly lacked institutional standing to challenge the Federal Refugee Resettlement program. Their amicus brief (“friend of the court brief”), authored by Nashville attorney Joanne Bregman, was filed late last week.
Bregman observed, “The ongoing conversations between the President and state governors concerning recovery from the COVID-19 pandemic is bringing a renewed interest in federalism – the same constitutional principle of dual sovereignty which is the basis of the General Assembly’s lawsuit against federal commandeering of state dollars to fund the federal refugee resettlement program.”
The Thomas More Law Center (“TMLC”), a national nonprofit public interest law firm based in Ann Arbor, Michigan, and John Bursch, a nationally prominent appellate lawyer are representing the General Assembly without charge. Bursch authored the General Assembly’s petition for certiorari, which asks the Supreme Court to overturn the Sixth Circuit’s ruling.
The petition for certiorari, filed on March 16, 2020, objects to forcing Tennessee taxpayers to pay the costs of the resettlement: “If a state legislature cannot vindicate its rights in court when the federal government picks the state’s pocket and threatens the state if it dare stop providing funds, then federalism is a dead letter.”
The Eagle Forum, a national conservative organization with 80,000 members founded by the late legendary Phyllis Schlafly in 1972, has significantly impacted public policy at both state and national levels. The Tennessee chapter headed by Mrs. Bobbie Patray was the first state chapter to question the power of the federal government to coerce state legislators to use state revenues to fund the federal refugee resettlement program.
Richard Thompson, TMLC’s President and Chief Counsel, commented:
“Justice Scalia considered the principles of federalism, the same principles that undergird our challenge to the federal refugee resettlement program, more important to the American democracy than the Bill of Rights.
Considering the continued controversy between the Nation’s governors and the President over the best way to recover from the COVID-19 pandemic, a grant of certiorari would present the Supreme Court with an opportunity to calm the waters over their conflicting claims of power by expounding on Federalism 101.”
Continued Thompson, “Because of the significance of this issue, I’m grateful that the Eagle Forum and its Tennessee chapter were able to assist our efforts to obtain Supreme Court review.”
According to the amicus brief: “Forcing state legislators to expend state resources outside of the normal appropriations process directly interferes with their duties to the state and to their constituents. If the federal government cannot compel a state to fund federal programs, then a state should not be forced to divert funding from essential and traditional state government services in order to operationalize a federal program from which the state has withdrawn.”
Tennessee initially agreed to participate in the federal refugee resettlement program. But when the federal government refused to cover the state costs as it originally promised and as the 1980 Refugee Act intended, Tennessee withdrew from the program in 2008. Nevertheless, the federal government merely designated Catholic Charities of Tennessee, a non-governmental private organization, to continue the program while still forcing the state to pay for it.
Bregman notes the threat to state sovereignty powers by federally coerced spending, especially at a time when the needs of Tennessee’s citizens are dire, referring to the COVID-19 pandemic and a series of deadly tornadoes which ripped through 100 miles of Tennessee counties.
The amicus brief concludes, “There is no room in the Constitution’s framework to permit the federal government or its agencies to take state funds without the express consent of the state’s appropriating body.”
I know it’s a little hard to believe that there are other things going on in America besides the virus crisis, but here is important news I should have mentioned sooner.
The Thomas More Law Center has filed a petition to attempt to get the Supreme Court to review the Tenth Amendment case that has been working its way through the legal system.
The heart of the case is the Tenth Amendment argument that the federal government has no Constitutional power to shift the cost of refugee resettlement onto state governments as it has been doing for decades.
TMLC is looking for other like-minded organizations to file amicus briefs in support of their argument which has far-reaching implications beyond just the refugee program!
Thomas More Law Center Petitions U.S. Supreme Court to Review Tennessee’s Challenge to Federal Refugee Resettlement Program
ANN ARBOR, MI – In what could have far reaching implications for all states seeking to withdraw from the federal refugee resettlement program, the Thomas More Law Center (“TMLC”) collaborating with attorney John Bursch, filed a certiorari petition Monday, March 16 in the U.S. Supreme Court.
The petition asks the Court to hold that the Tennessee General Assembly has standing to challenge the constitutionality of the federal government’s forced state funding of the federal refugee resettlement program.
The Thomas More Law Center (“TMLC”) is a national nonprofit public interest law firm based in Ann Arbor, Michigan. Both TMLC and Mr. Bursch are representing Tennessee without charge.
John Bursch, a former Michigan state solicitor general, nationally prominent appellate lawyer and past chair of the American Bar Association’s Council of Appellate Lawyers, authored the petition for certiorari.
The petition argues that the issues presented in the Tennessee case cut to the core of the Constitution’s protection of states against overreach by the federal government. The Constitution does not give Congress the authority to appropriate state funds, contrary to the wishes of the state, to fund a federal program.
According to the petition: “If a state legislature cannot vindicate its rights in court when the federal government picks the state’s pocket and threatens the state if it dare stop providing funds, then federalism is a dead letter.”
The petition seeks to overturn a Sixth Circuit Court of Appeals decision which ruled that the General Assembly does not have institutional standing to challenge the constitutionality of the resettlement program. The cert petition does not challenge the federal government’s right to resettle refugees in Tennessee. What it objects to is forcing Tennessee taxpayers to pay the costs of the resettlement.
Richard Thompson, president and chief counsel of TMLC, noted: “From the beginning, opposition to the federal refugee resettlement program has been about protecting Tennessee’s state sovereignty from impermissible federal interference. The federal government cannot simply commandeer state tax dollars to fund a purely federal program to extend benefits to noncitizens.”
Tennessee initially agreed to participate in the federal resettlement program because the federal government promised to reimburse 100 percent of the cost. In fact, Congress crafted the 1980 Refugee Act specifically intending that states not be taxed for programs they did not initiate and for which they were not responsible. As is often the case, however, the federal government began shrinking its financial support to the states and by 1991 eliminated it entirely. Due to the mounting costs the federal government was not covering as promised, Tennessee withdrew from the program effective June 30, 2008. But that didn’t stop the federal financial burden on Tennessee taxpayers. The federal government simply designated Catholic Charities of Tennessee, a non-governmental private organization, to continue the program with state dollars.
Between 2007 and the end of 2019, resettlement agencies pumped more than 15,000 refugees into Tennessee cities and towns. They came from Afghanistan, Bosnia, Burma, Central African Republic, Congo, Eritrea, Iran, Iraq, Somalia, Sudan 3 and many other countries. They often arrive from United Nations camps in poor health, with no job skills or English-language abilities.
The resulting cost to state taxpayers amounted to tens of millions of dollars. In 2015 alone, the refugee-related Medicaid costs paid by Tennessee tax dollars topped $30 million.
Instead of resolving the merits of Tennessee’s claim, the Sixth Circuit Court of Appeals sidestepped the pivotal constitutional issue concerning federalism by ruling that the Tennessee General Assembly lacked standing to bring its lawsuit.
The petition filed on March 16, 2020, argues that this was in error:
“The General Assembly is an institutional plaintiff asserting an institutional injury; the federal government has co-opted the General Assembly’s appropriation power and impaired its obligation to enact a balanced state budget. That is because the federal government can siphon state funds—to help pay for a federal program from which Tennessee has withdrawn.”
TMLC originally filed the federal lawsuit in March 2017 on behalf of the State of Tennessee, the Tennessee General Assembly, and state legislators Terri Lynn Weaver and John Stevens challenging the commandeering of millions in state taxpayer dollars for a purely federal program.
A U.S. district court judge dismissed the case on the federal government’s motion. The Sixth Circuit affirmed the lower court’s dismissal on the sole grounds that the General Assembly lacked standing. It never reached the merits of the case.
The Supreme Court now has a chance to shed light on the proper role of the states relative to the federal government—which is the bedrock constitutional principle of federalism.
The petition states: “The (Tennessee) General Assembly does not object to the federal resettlement program. It does not even object to the federal government resettling 4 refugees in Tennessee. The General Assembly does object to the federal government reaching its hand into Tennessee’s pocket to pay for the cost of such a program, particularly when the enabling legislation was enacted with the promise to reimburse states for all expenses incurred in this program.”
The federal government mandates that states provide Medicaid to otherwise eligible refugees, or face termination of federal benefits.
Accordingly, the federal government forces Tennessee to continue funding the refugee program by threatening to pull $7 billion in federal Medicaid funding, which represents 20 percent of the state’s total budget.
The argument in favor of the General Assembly’s standing is bolstered by the fact that both chambers of the Tennessee General Assembly voted overwhelmingly in 2016 in favor of filing a civil lawsuit challenging the constitutionality of the federal refugee resettlement program. The State Senate passed Senate Joint Resolution 467, by a vote of 27-5 while the House voted 69-25 to pass the same resolution.
And without any waiting period they can automatically apply for all welfare programs provided by the State of Tennessee.
And, of course the refugee industry as represented by the Tennessee Immigrant and Refugee Rights cabal (TIRRC) is steaming!
By the way, this legislation is a possible model for you in states where your Republican governor has caved to the Open Borders Left and said yes to more refugees for your state. Of course it could only work in states where the legislature has a Republican majority with some guts.
First here is the news, then we’ll learn a bit more about TIRRCwhich has 6 paid lobbyists included in a staff of 14 while those organizing grassroots on the side of restraining more migration, in pockets of resistance, must do so with no funding support.
Tennessee committee advances bill seeking to halt refugee resettlement
NASHVILLE, Tenn.–The Tennessee Immigrant & Refugee Rights Coalition (TIRRC) is calling a Tennessee House of Representatives bill recommended for passage “hateful.”
HJR 741 targets state funds used to resettle refugees as part of a federal program which allows states to opt-in to accept refugee resettlement.
Under the bill originally filed by Rep. Teri Lynn Weaver (R-Lancaster), HJR 741 calls for no action to be taken by Governor Bill Lee when it comes to resettlement unless authorized by a joint resolution of the General Assembly.
The bill targets Governor Lee due to his decision to continue to accept refugees in the state in response to an Executive Order issued by President Donald J. Trump last year. President Trump had issued the “Enhancing State and Local Involvement in Refugee Resettlement” order in September.
Under the Executive Order, the Federal Government would only be able to resettle refugees in specific areas where state and local governments agree to accept refugees.
However, the decision is ultimately in the hands of each state’s governor and Lee made the decision to continue participation.
Rep. Weaver’s resolution says Governor Lee’s decision obligates public money “in violation of the Tennessee General Assembly’s constitutional duty.” The resolution was recommended for passage on Tuesday by the Departments & Agencies Subcommittee.
TIRRC is calling the advancement part of a “classic hateful playbook.” TIRRC Votes Police and Legislative Affairs Manager Judith Clerjeune issued the following statement in response to the resolution…
A few days ago Tennessee’s Dailyrollcallreported on TIRRC and its fellow travelers that include the Koch’s Americans for Prosperity!
Tennessee Elected Officials – is it the Tenth or TIRRC For You?
TN Immigrant & Refugee Rights Coalition’s political arm called TIRRC VOTES, has SIX paid lobbyists. TIRRC itself has 14 on staff, Soros money and is running multiple email disinformation campaigns on refugee resettlement, targeting state legislators, local county commissioners and any other locally elected official.
At it’s core, TIRRC’s agenda aligns with that of the New American Economy (NAE, formerly named the Partnership for a New American Economy) outfit, along with the Koch brothers’ Americans for Prosperity (AFP), two big dollar organizations mobilized to push more legal and illegal immigrants into communities. Like TIRRC, NAE and AFP are pushing back on key Trump immigration policies intended to help American citizens prosper.
NAE, AFP and TIRRC like to push the false economic-enhancing narrative of legal immigrants like refugees and illegal aliens. TIRRC also thinks name-calling like xenophobe, racist and hater, is an effective tool to silence anyone who disagrees with their agenda.
While TIRRC’s coalition member the American Muslim Advisory Council (AMAC) parades refugees turned Tennesseans, NAE puts out reports claiming that after living in the U.S. between 16-25 years, refugees are earn “well above the income of refugees who have been here for five years or less.” They also claim that refugees are the answer to reviving aging and declining communities.
TIRRC parrots these same points trying to deflect from the Tennessee issues. With regard to the federal refugee program, Tennessee legislators and advocates have raised the core Constitutional issue of federalism on the one hand, and the role of the state’s legislature to appropriate public money, on the other.
On these important state issues, it appears that Governor Lee has aligned himself lock, stock and barrel with TIRRC as opposed to advocating for the state’s Tenth Amendment rights and Tennessee’s Constitutional powers and duties.
The President made it clear when he campaigned in 2016 that he wanted to see the number of refugees reduced if elected President especially from countries where the majority of its citizens hate us. He has been doing that with each year.
And, this year he took one more step to answer the concerns of immigrant-overloaded towns and cities and has offered the opportunity for county elected officials and state governors to either opt-in or opt-out of the refugee admissions program later this fiscal year. This would give their taxpayers a breather since it is local and state taxpayers who must support the low-skilled and largely uneducated new arrivals.
Trump’s new system, that we have been writing about every day for the last couple of weeks, would go into effect in June 2020, but would likely have to be repeated in the fall as the determination for 2021 must be made by October 1.
The Open Borders ‘Religious’ Left has turned Trump’s efforts to give some control back to state and local officials into one more anti-Trump campaign.
One such group are the supposed “evangelicals” featured in this headline from something called theChristian Post.
2,600 evangelicals urge governors to continue refugee resettlement after Trump order
A reader very familial with the evangelical movement tells me that this is “fake news.”
He said he is “furious” and went on to explain,
“if you look at the actual letters, it appears that as many as 25-50 percent of the signatures have zero connection to the Evangelical movement. They are Presbyterians, Methodists, Lutherans, Anglicans and even a few Catholics. Shame on the Christian Post. Instead of saying “Evangelical Christians” their article should have said “Liberal Christians.”
And, I will add: Liberal Christians looking for more Democrat voters!
Here is some of what Christian Post reporter Samuel Smith says in this deliberately deceptive report:
Over 2,600 evangelicals called on their state governors this past week to consent to resettle refugees in their borders following an executive order signed by President Donald Trump requiring approval from state and local officials before refugees can be resettled.
The evangelical refugee resettlement agency World Relief and the Evangelical Immigration Table [Soros-linked!—ed] a coalition of evangelical organizations seeking comprehensive immigration reform, led an effort this past week to send joint letters to 15 state governors.
The letters call for the officials to permit the continued resettlement of refugees through the U.S. refugee admissions program in accordance with Trump’s Sept. 26 executive order giving states and localities the ability to block refugee resettlement.
So far, 17 of the nation’s 50 governors have indicated that they will continue to allow refugee resettlement in the U.S., according to World Relief.
We have only seen 11 governors go public so far, so we don’t know where they get 17. Are 6 additional governors hiding? See my right hand sidebar to see which governors have said yes so far.
These consenting governors have effectively said: send my state more poor people (we have run out of our own vulnerable citizens to care for). We look forward to the day when all the immigrants will vote and we can have just one big Democrat socialist party in America!
The Christian Post continues…
The letters received a combined total of 2,669 signatories, including 659 on the letter to Tennessee Republican Gov. Bill Lee, 340 on the letter to Texas Gov. Greg Abbott and 231 on the letter to Georgia Gov. Brian Kemp.
One state of concern in Texas, which is among the leading states in terms of refugees resettled in the past decade.
Texas has resettled over 80,000 refugees since 2002, according to Pew Research. Texas joined liberal states California, New York and Washington in hosting about a quarter of the refugees resettled in the U.S. in the fiscal year 2019.
As a conservative governor, Abbott hasn’t offered any indication so far on whether or not he will consent to refugee resettlement.
Another state of concern is Georgia, which resettled 1,000 refugees in the fiscal year 2019 as the Atlanta suburb of Clarkston, Georgia is home to thousands of refugees.
The states the Religious Leftwing letter writers are specifically targeting (they want to get their consent by Christmas) are Arizona, North Carolina, California, Florida, Georgia, Iowa, Illinois, Indiana, Ohio, Oklahoma, South Carolina, Tennessee, Texas, Washington and Wisconsin.
Only four years ago 30 Republican governors were telling Obama they didn’t want any Syrian refugees (the big group Obama wanted to admit) and now Trump gives them an opportunity to slow the flow and allow the massive migrant population we already have to assimilate, they are turning tail and running and you know its because they are afraid of being called names by the Leftists (or are in the pockets of giant global corporations clamoring for cheap labor!).
The extreme Left that makes up Open Borders Inc. is so extensively organized (and largely using our tax dollars to help them organize!) that regular citizens like you and me have very little power against them.
One thing this Trump initiative will do is help us identify who are the real America Firsters controlling governor’s mansions.
Have you taken 15 minutes to call your county commissioners and governors?
The Religious Left is on the rise, if you are a true evangelical, please make that clear when you call or write!