ACLU-TN Statement on State's Anti-Refugee Lawsuit
NASHVILLE – The Tennessee General Assembly today announced that it has filed a lawsuit against the federal government over refugee resettlement.
The state’s lawsuit is being brought by the Michigan-based Thomas More Law Center, after Tennessee Attorney General Herbert Slatery announced in July that he declined to file the lawsuit himself.
The Thomas More Law Center describes its mission, in part, as “defend[ing] and promot[ing] America’s Judeo-Christian heritage and moral values, including the religious freedom of Christians.” In a blog post entitled “Stopping the Muslim Invasion of America,” Thomas More Law Center president Richard Thompson writes, “Muslims are not arriving on American shores to assimilate, but to conquer… [The Thomas More Law Center] stand[s] ready to defend our nation from the threat of the Muslim Invasion disguised as Refugee Resettlement.” Thompson has also made assertions that the Muslim Brotherhood has “[taken] over the educational system of the United States military,” dictating what the Pentagon and FBI should teach their officers.
Governor Bill Haslam has stated that he has confidence in the federal government’s vetting process for refugees and that he does not object to refugees from Syria or elsewhere settling in Tennessee.
The following can be attributed to Hedy Weinberg, executive director of the American Civil Liberties Union of Tennessee:
“The Tennessee General Assembly’s decision to move forward with this lawsuit is not only very troubling, but unjust and wrong.
There is no reason to attack vulnerable families fleeing from terrorism. No matter what Tennessee politicians say, this lawsuit is driven by animus toward Muslims.
The legislature has laid its cards on the table with the selection of a law firm known for its radical anti-Muslim ideology to represent our state. This lawsuit exemplifies and fuels the growing hostility toward Muslims that extends all the way to the White House and President Trump’s statements that he wants to ban Muslims.
Cruel attempts to stop the resettlement of refugees blame the victims for the very terror they are trying to escape. We believe that the actions of these politicians do not represent the majority of Tennesseans who believe in helping those in need – especially those fleeing violence and terror to protect their families.
The decision to pursue this lawsuit betrays Tennesseans’ values of fairness and justice and we will continue to fight back against attacks on our Muslim neighbors, friends and colleagues.”
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The American Civil Liberties Union is a nonprofit organization whose mission is to defend and preserve the individual rights and liberties guaranteed to every person in this country by the Constitution and laws of the United States of America.