Tennessee Governor Agrees to Continue Participating in Refugee Resettlement Following Pleas From Evangelical Groups

Tennessee Gov. Bill Lee

Just days before a looming deadline, Tennessee’s Republican Gov. Bill Lee has consented to participate in a federal refugee resettlement program in 2020, a move that has angered conservative state leaders.

In a December 18 letter to U.S. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo, Lee thanked the Trump Administration for a Sept. 26 executive order requiring consent from local and state governments before thrusting refugee settlement programs on those jurisdictions.

“Thank you for consulting with the states to ensure this process is successful,” Lee wrote in the letter. “We feel strongly that this consultation is appropriate and that the federal government would be overstepping by requiring states to participate in this program.”

Lee’s decision makes Tennessee one of only a handful of Republican-led states agreeing to participate.

“The United States and Tennessee have always been, since the very founding of our nation, a shining beacon of freedom and opportunity for the persecuted and oppressed, particularly those suffering religious persecution,” the governor said in a news release announcing his decision. “My administration has worked extensively to determine the best outcome for Tennessee, and I will consent to working with President Trump and his administration to responsibly resettle refugees.”

Lee’s announcement came a little more than a week after a joint letter from the Evangelical Immigration Table and World Relief, a Christian-based humanitarian aid and resettlement agency, urging the governor to consent to the program. More than 650 evangelical leaders from across the state signed the letter

“Over the past decade, roughly 12,700 individuals from various countries have been resettled in Tennessee,” the letter read. “Many refugees resettled by the U.S. refugee resettlement program are Christians or other religious minorities who were persecuted for their faith in countries without our country’s constitutional commitment to religious freedom.

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Source: Christian Headlines