PRESS STATEMENT Wednesday, July 6, 2016Contact: Lisa Sherman-Nikolaus | Lisa@tnimmigrant.org
NASHVILLE – Today, Attorney General Slatery announced that he would not file a lawsuit on behalf of the state of Tennessee to challenge the refugee resettlement program, as directed by SJR467, which passed the Tennessee General Assembly in April 2016.While the attorney general made it clear that a lawsuit would not be in the best interest of Tennesseans and would be unlikely to succeed, he delegated his authority to the General Assembly to hire outside counsel on its behalf. The Michigan-based Thomas More Law Center (TMLC), an activist and anti-Muslim law firm, has sought a state to act as plaintiff in the very lawsuit outlined in SJR467, and may find one in the Tennessee General Assembly. TMLC states that their mission is to “Preserve America’s Judeo-Christian heritage.”
The following is a statement from Stephanie Teatro, Co-Executive Director of the Tennessee Immigrant and Refugee Rights Coalition:
“We applaud Attorney General Slatery’s decision not to sue the federal government over refugee resettlement. We agree with his assessment that the lawsuit is not grounded in any firm legal basis and is bound to fail in court.We urge the speakers of the house and senate to cut their losses and shelve this baseless litigation. The attorney general's statement, as well as the provision of SJR467 that requires outside counsel to represent the General Assembly pro bono, now guarantee that the only law firm that might take this case would be one driven more by ideology than sound legal reasoning. If the legislature proceeds with SJR467, we will not only be turning our backs on refugee families fleeing violence and persecution but also the advice of our state's highest ranking legal officer.
If Senator Norris and other proponents of this lawsuit ignore the reasoned analysis of the attorney general in favor of political theater, they will further cement our reputation as the most unwelcoming place in the country. Any further consideration of this lawsuit will be an utter embarrassment to our state."
# # #TIRRC is a statewide, immigrant and refugee-led collaboration whose mission is to empower immigrants and refugees throughout Tennessee to develop a unified voice, defend their rights, and create an atmosphere in which they are recognized as positive contributors to the state. Since its founding in 2001, TIRRC has worked to develop immigrant leadership, build the capacity of its immigrant-led member organizations, help immigrant community members understand and engage in the civic process, and educate the public about policies that would better promote integration of new immigrants and facilitate their full participation in US society. In just a few years TIRRC has grown from a grassroots network of community leaders into one of the most diverse and effective coalitions of its kind, a model for emerging immigrant rights organizations in the Southeast and throughout the United States.