As They Call for Senate Hearings, Republican Governors’ Outrage is a Joke

Governors Kim Reynolds of Iowa and Bill Lee of Tennessee want the Senate to hold hearings on what they see as an outrageous affront to states’ rights as the federal Office of Refugee Resettlement is flying Unaccompanied Alien Children (refugee wannabes) in and out of their states with no communication with the governor or state officials.

We all know that a Senate hearing is nothing but a useless piece of political theater that won’t accomplish smack, but these grandstanding Republican governors obviously think they can trick you into believing they are doing something!

Is it any wonder we have such disdain for Republican governors like Reynolds.

And, what makes me steam over this little temper tantrum by Reynolds and Lee is that they had a chance to take a stand for states’ rights on the issue of the federal government dumping refugees on states and communities back when Trump was attempting to give them more rights (actually give them the rights they are due under our US Constitution) and they snubbed their noses at him.

Trump was trying to give them a chance to say they needed a break from refugees being placed in their states by the feds and unelected non-profit group actors, and they turned him down.

Only Governor Abbott of Texas outright supported Trump’s reform effort and said he would not consent for 2020.

Here is Reynold’s attempting to make you think she is working for Iowans by demanding a Senate hearing—what a joke!—typical oily political move.

From the Ames Tribune:

19 migrant children had a layover in an Iowa airport. Gov. Kim Reynolds wants Congress to get answers

With no notice to the state, at least 19 unaccompanied children were transported in an overnight flight through Des Moines from California in April, Gov. Kim Reynolds confirmed Thursday, saying she wants to know more details.

After deplaning, the children were taken on two buses to be transported to various locations for unification, according to a Thursday news release from Reynolds’ office.

“We weren’t able to get any answers about why there were chartered planes coming in the middle of night — chartered buses — and unaccompanied minors removed from the plane and then transported outside of the state,” Reynolds told reporters Thursday.

[….]

In April, a total of 163 unaccompanied migrant children were released to sponsors in Iowa, according to the federal Office of Refugee Resettlement statistics.

[….]

Good ol’ country boy, Lee with his pick ’em up truck.

Reynolds and  Lee — who says unaccompanied minor children were brought to his state in May without any notification — wrote the joint letter to Grassley in support of the senator’s demands for a Senate Judiciary Hearing into the situation on the U.S. southern border with Mexico.

More: Tennessee Gov. Bill Lee wants U.S. Senate to hold hearings on unaccompanied minors

Gov. Bill Lee is asking the U.S. Senate to investigate the arrival of unaccompanied migrant children in Tennessee, a request that comes as the Republican governor continues to slam the Biden administration over a lack of transparency on the issue.

Lee and Iowa Gov. Kim Reynolds, a fellow Republican, sent the letter on Thursday to U.S. Sen. Chuck Grassley, R-Iowa. Grassley in April requested that Senate Democrats hold hearings to discuss the influx of migrants at the southern border since President Joe Biden took office.

 

Their demand for a hearing is easy. 

Their demand for “transparency” is their way of making you, voting citizens of Iowa and Tennessee, think that they are doing something, but when given a chance to really take a stand for a state’s right to know who is being placed in their states by the feds, and have an opportunity to say no, they just didn’t have the guts.

Albeit it was a different type of ‘refugee’…they are all refugees now, right!  This letter below is what Reynolds sent to Trump’s Secretary of State.

Notice no interest even in finding out who is coming and how many.

So why would the present administration think they had to confer with these heretofore ‘welcoming’ Republican governors?

 

And, here is Lee’s letter that caused an uproar in Tennessee.

 

 

Texas Governor Abbot wrote a detailed letter that ended with him not giving consent to refugees being placed by the feds in Texas for FY2020.

Both Kemp of Georgia and DeSantis of Florida remained silent.

Word is that the Trump people were very shocked and disappointed that most Republican governors turned down the President’s attempt to give them more say, to give them some modicum of states’ rights, in advance of a refugee drop.

If you are wondering whatever happened to that reform effort via a Trump executive order, the refugee resettlement contractors (below) sued and stopped the initiative dead in its tracks.

 

Fargo, North Dakota: Deputy Mayor Surprised to Learn Refugees Still Arriving

Editor:  I started this post yesterday, but couldn’t finish it as RRW went down for awhile making me very nervous.  I don’t know what that was about, but it seems to be working fine today.  Sure hope you didn’t experience any problems visiting.

 

I told you back in January that Lutheran Social Services of North Dakota had filed for bankruptcy after getting mired in some affordable housing scheme that is too complex to bother with here.

In the process they are losing their fancy and expensive building, a building I saw in my 2016 travels to the state.

North Dakota: Lutheran Refugee Contractor Closes its Doors

So the assumption was that refugee flow into the state was going to be halted at least for awhile.

You might recall that North Dakota’s Republican governor did NOT support President Trump’s effort at reforming the Refugee Admissions Program by allowing local and state governments to have some say in the process of determining the target sites for resettlement.

Here is what I said in December of 2019:

North Dakota Republican Governor is a Definite Yes for More Refugees

That brings us to the latest breaking news as Fargo’s Valley News Live says that refugees are being placed in Fargo:

FARGO, N.D. (Valley News Live) – Fargo City Commissioner Dave Piepkorn said Tuesday that he sat in on a phone call in which Lutheran Immigration and Refugee Services stated that they had resettled approximately 25 refugees in Fargo-Moorhead. Deputy Mayor Piepkorn shared concern that he had not been made aware of the resettlement and he questioned whether the City of Fargo was notified prior to rehoming the refugees.

Too funny! NOT! The woman who ran LSSND as it was financially crashing is now working for the governor!

Questions have been raised as to how the action was coordinated. Prior to filing bankruptcy, Lutheran Social Services (LSS) was tasked with refugee resettlement in the state.

Former LSS Director, Jessica Thomasson, now works as the Executive Policy Director at ND Department of Human Services.

The country of origin of the refugees was not made known. In a recent interview with Chris Berg, Gov. Burgum stated that he was open to resettling refugees in the state but he was unaware of any plan to resettle undocumented immigrants from the southern border.

Be sure to watch Chris Berg’s interview with Fargo City Commissioner Dave Piepkorn where Piepkorn says he doubts anyone was notified and mentioned specifically the school system.

In response to Deputy Mayor Piepkorn….

President Trump’s failed reform initiative sought to give local governments an opportunity to review plans for resettlement in their jurisdictions with a yes or no sign-off, governors would also have to approve or disapprove the plan.

Shockingly, most Republican governors, including North Dakota’s Doug Burgum, did not back the President’s efforts to shore-up their Tenth Amendment states’ rights.

Here is one of many, many posts on the feckless Republican governors:

White House Supposedly Blindsided as Republican Governors Cave on Refugee Resettlement

 

At present local governments are supposed to be consulted, but I will bet that the resettlement agency only talked to friendly “stakeholders” in the process of preparing an “abstract” that must be submitted to the US State Department in advance of placements in a given location.

https://www.usnews.com/news/best-states/north-dakota/articles/2021-01-25/burgum-state-to-take-over-refugee-resettlement-after-lss

Any elected official should be able to request permission to attend a stakeholder meeting and be permitted to see a recent R & P Abstract  prepared by  a local resettlement contractor.

See one of my many posts on the topic here in January 2020.

Of course, in the case of ND (with no agency operating at the moment), one would most likely go to the state’s Department of Human Services for the most recent Abstract and a schedule of stakeholder meetings.

LOL! that would be the agency now headed by former LSS CEO Thomasson.

 

One final note:  For years we were able to see which refugees went to which towns and cities on an almost daily basis and all the way back to 2002. That database is no longer available. It was shuttered during Trump’s tenure.  The feds claimed the website is being overhauled.

Except for the most recent arrivals in the present fiscal year, we are left completely in the dark about the numbers, nationalities and resettlement locations of thousands and thousands of refugee arrivals.

That tiny bit of information is available here.

Twenty Governors to Biden: Don’t Send the Illegal Alien Children to Our States

“We have neither the resources nor the obligation to solve the federal government’s problem and foot the bill for the consequences of this Administration’s misguided actions.”

 

Maybe you have already seen reports where you live that the federal Office of Refugee Resettlement (within HHS) is out scouting locations to shelter Unaccompanied Alien Children (mostly teens and mostly males!) in unused facilities such as old schools.

Well, twenty Republican governors are saying Not in My State!

Presumably this demand by the governors applies only to shelters for UACs.***

Here is the opening salvo in their letter yesterday:

 

Here are those who signed:

 

Although it didn’t involve illegal alien ‘children’, I am reminded that many of the governors above did not support President Trump’s efforts to strengthen their states rights when Trump proposed a plan to give them a greater say in refugee placement in their states.

There are twenty-seven Republican governors, seven did not sign the letter.

Missing are the REPUBLICAN governors of Alaska, Florida, Maryland, Massachusetts, Ohio, Vermont and West Virginia signaling that it is hunky dory to send illegal aliens to shelters in their states.

***UACs are being placed with sponsors in most states.

You can see, by clicking here, where some of the mostly teenagers have been placed with sponsors through the end of March.

Eagle Forum Files Brief in Tennessee States Rights Case

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.

From the Thomas More Law Center:

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.”

Richard Thompson

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.”

Read the Eagle Forums’ entire amicus brief here.

Read TMLC’s Petition for Certiorari here.

Two additional briefs were filed, see here and here.

 

Will the Supreme Court Hear the Ultimate States Rights Case?

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!

Here is their press release from earlier this month.

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.

Will they, or won’t they consider the Tenth Amendment case about how the feds have been dumping the costs of refugee resettlement on the states?

 

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.

Read TMLC’s Petition for Certiorari here. 

If you know any organization that is in agreement with the broad-reaching tenets of the case, please have them contact the Thomas Moore Law Center immediately.  Time is short!