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Tennessee Sues Federal Government Over Refugees

Lawmakers from Tennessee have initiated a lawsuit against the federal government over its refugee resettlement program.

The suit, which secured broad support from state lawmakers, alleges that the federal government is violating the 10th Amendment of the U.S. Constitution, according to The Tennessean.

The 10th Amendment states that the federal government only possesses the powers delegated to it in the Constitution. All other powers are reserved for the states.

The plaintiffs argue that the federal government should be forced to stop resettling refugees in Tennessee until all of the costs of the program are paid for by the federal government.

"Plaintiffs will suffer significant and irreparable harm unless this court intervenes," the lawsuit states, according to The Tennessean.

The initiative is being supported by the Thomas More Law Center, a conservative law firm.

Civil liberties and refugee groups have condemned the suit.

"Amidst the largest displacement of people since World II, the president has already brought the entire refugee resettlement program to a grinding halt, shutting our doors on families fleeing war and violence," Stephanie Teatro of the Tennessee Immigrant and Refugee Rights Coalition said. "Not wanting to be outdone by the federal government, our legislature is proceeding with this extreme lawsuit in hopes of blocking the law and throwing away the key."

The American Civil Liberties Union has also criticized the suit.

"Though this lawsuit is bound to fail in the courts, it's very filing assures Tennessee's place in a very dark chapter of our country's history," added Teatro. "But just as the courts will dismiss this lawsuit, Tennesseans will also reject this betrayal of our values and demand real leadership from our elected leaders."

But Representative Terri Weaver, who backs the lawsuit, took a different view.

"The only way we can get back to our constitutional beginnings and the intent birthed by our founding fathers is to go and take it back," said Weaver. "We are looking forward to linking arms with the Thomas More Law Center for the long haul to regain sovereignty for our great state."

Republican State Sen. Mark Norris maintained that the lawsuit was not a criticism of President Donald Trump's administration.

"We want to convey to the President that we support his efforts concerning immigration and refugee resettlement and believe this suit for declaratory relief is consistent with what would likely be his position regarding states like Tennessee which have withdrawn from the refugee resettlement program but are forced to continue paying costs associated with it," Norris said.

The issue is especially topical since Trump's ban on immigrants from six Muslim-majority countries comes into force March 16.

A Wisconsin court issued the first ruling against the travel ban March 11. District Judge William Conley ruled that Trump's revised travel ban could not be applied to a Syrian woman, who will be traveling to the U.S. with her child to be reunited with her husband. The Syrian man has already been granted asylum.

Conley's ruling only applies to the family in question, CNBC reported.

Sources: The Tennessean, CNBC / Photo credit: Michael Rivera/Wikimedia Commons

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