NASVHILLE – The Senate State and Local Government Committee and the House State Government Committee held a joint hearing in Nashville today to look at plans by the federal Office of Refugee Resettlement (ORR) to bring Syrian refugees to Tennessee. The committees heard from Bill Young, Tennessee Associate Attorney General; David R. Shedd, Former Director of the U.S. Defense Intelligence Agency; Bill Gibbons, Commissioner of the Tennessee Department of Safety and Homeland Security; David Purkey, Assistant Commissioner of the Tennessee Department of Safety and Homeland Security; Major General Terry “Max” Haston, Adjutant General of the Tennessee National Guard and Holly Johnson, Director of Catholic Charities of Tennessee which operates the Tennessee Office of Refugees.
Senate State and Local Government Committee Chairman Ken Yager (R-Kingston), who presided over the hearing, made the following statement after the meeting concluded:
“This was a very informative meeting,” said Chairman Yager. “Those testifying helped tremendously in providing us with important information, as well as identifying where weaknesses in the system occur as it pertains to the state’s ability to keep our citizens safe.”
“We certainly support Governor Haslam’s efforts to hold the federal government accountable in their lawful responsibility to consult with the states, including Tennessee, as clearly articulated by Commissioner Gibbons today.”
“There is no margin for error in protecting the citizens of Tennessee as their safety must be our highest priority. We will continue this discussion into the 2016 legislative session,” he continued.
Reports indicate that Tennessee will likely receive some of the 10,000 Syrian refugees for resettlement under President Obama’s admissions plans.
Governor Bill Haslam has asked federal officials to suspend placements in Tennessee until states can become more of a partner in the vetting process.