GREENE COUNTY, Tenn. (WJHL)- The Greene County Commission will consider a resolution to oppose refugee resettlement within the county at their January 21 meeting.
The “resolution of no consent to refugee resettlement” comes in wake of Governor Bill Lee’s recent decision to allow refugee resettlement in the state.
“I’m supporting of not consenting to the resettlement of refugees in Greene County,” Mayor Kevin Morrison said.
Morrison said he had questions about how the federal refugee resettlement program would affect the county.
“We don’t know, for instance, logistically, what might be financially required of Greene County,” he said.
Commissioner Jason Cobble is sponsoring the resolution to opt-out of accepting refugees. He said the state not allowing exemption for counties is a violation of the Tenth Amendment.
“You basically can’t force counties to accept refugees and make them pay for them as well. I can’t see how taking people’s money to resettle refugees is in the best interest of the whole people,” Cobble said.
On Wednesday a federal judge ruled against the Trump administration policy allowing local governments to block refugee resettlement. It’s still unclear how this would affect Greene County’s resolution if it passed.
Some members of the community, such as activist group Indivisible Greene County, believe the resolution sends the wrong message. Group leader Lena Kendrick Dean called the resolution xenophobic.
“It doesn’t seem to me that these are people that would be a drain on our resources or our tax dollars,” said Dean. “These are people who want to come here, get jobs, improve the economy, buy things, work here, live here.”
Dean cited data from the Tennessee Office for Refugees, saying a very limited number have come to the county in years past.
“Since 2002 there have only been seven refugees that have been resettled into Greene County,” she said.
Morrison belives any future refugees would be better served in other communities.
“Let other communities that are better prepared or perhaps more equipped to deal with that situation deal with it. And we can get on with the priorities we’ve established here in Greene County,” he said.