NASHVILLE, Tenn. (AP) – With several GOP governors calling to stop Syrian refugees from entering their states in the wake of the Paris attacks, one Republican leader in Tennessee wants to take that matter further and says the National Guard should round up the refugees and return them to federal immigration centers.
“We need to activate the Tennessee National Guard and stop them from coming in to the state by whatever means we can,” House Republican Caucus Chairman Glen Casada of the Nashville suburb of Franklin told The Tennessean (http://tnne.ws/1HXp3HJ ) for Wednesday’s editions. He said the Guard should “politely” take the Syrian refugees already in the state to federal Immigration and Customs Enforcement centers and tell the officials there, “They’re not coming to Tennessee, they’re yours.”
Tennessee Gov. Bill Haslam is among the governors who want to delay or stop accepting Syrian refugees. But the federal government controls resettlement programs, and states have no authority to bar refugees from moving to their jurisdictions
Casada argues: “Tennessee is a sovereign state. If the federal government is forsaking the obligation to protect our citizens, we need to act.”
The Tennessee Immigrant and Refugee Rights Coalition criticized the “dangerous rhetoric” from Casada.
“These comments harken back to some of the darkest periods of our nation’s history, when we let fear and xenophobia override our principles and commitment to basic American freedoms,” said Stephanie Teatro, the advocacy group’s co-executive director.
Thirty of the 1,601 refugees who settled in the state during fiscal 2015 came from Syria, according to the Tennessee Office for Refugees.
On Tuesday, the White House sought to reassure governors by explaining during a conference call how the refugees are screened and prioritized for entry.