ACLU-TN Urges Governor to Veto Anti-Refugee Resolution

Affiliate: ACLU of Tennessee
April 25, 2016 3:45 pm

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NASHVILLE – The American Civil Liberties Union of Tennessee today sent a letter to Governor Bill Haslam urging him to veto SJR 467, the resolution directing the state attorney general to file a lawsuit against the federal government for allegedly failing to consult with the state on refugee resettlement.

“We urge Governor Haslam to veto this attempt to halt refugee resettlement in our state,” said Hedy Weinberg, ACLU-TN executive director. “This misguided resolution is clearly motivated by fear. Targeting families who are themselves fleeing violence and terror does nothing to make our state safer. But it does violate the Constitution, not to mention the values of fair treatment, equality and compassion that Tennesseans embrace.”

ACLU-TN’s letter explains that SJR 467 violates the Equal Protection Clause and the Supremacy Clause of the U.S. Constitution, the separation of powers articulated in the Tennessee Constitution, and numerous state statutes.

The letter states, “This resolution tramples on the checks and balances that are the very foundation of Tennessee government. The Tennessee Constitution specifically set up three distinct branches of government in order to prevent the abuse of power. But by directing the state attorney general to file a lawsuit against the federal government, under this resolution the legislative branch attempts to direct the actions of the judicial branch, trespassing in the domain of the executive branch in the process.”

The letter explains, “Immigration is in the exclusive province of the federal government. Refugee admission is a federal matter, reflecting our values as a nation. The resettlement of refugees is determined by the U.S. State Department. States do not have veto power in this area. Tennessee may not simply close its borders to refugees who are duly recognized and vetted by the federal government.”

The lawsuit proposed in SJR 467 is identical to a recent case in Texas, in which the federal district court found that the state had “no viable cause of action” against the federal government.

The governor has ten days, excepting Sundays, to veto this resolution once it reaches his desk.

A copy of ACLU-TN’s letter can be found here.

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