Tennessee shouldn't consent to refugee resettlements

Friday, January 17, 2020

Read the text of Smith's resolution here.

Brent Smith

On Tuesday, January 21, I will be introducing a resolution at 5 p.m. on the third floor of the Bedford County Courthouse. This resolution is a resolution of No Consent to Refugee Resettlement in Bedford County, Tennessee.

As many of you have read over the past few weeks, Governor Bill Lee has announced his consent to initial refugee resettlement in Tennessee in response to Executive Order 13888 issued by President Donald J. Trump on September 26, 2019. This gives states and counties the ability to choose whether or not they wanted to accept new refugees. Unfortunately, our Governor did not collaborate with the General Assembly on this; much less his more rural constituents like those of us in Bedford County.

I believe the Governor has a good heart and good intentions but his actions are very naive considering the federal government has proven time and time again that it cannot vet these persons. Even as I write this, Tennessee is currently in a refugee resettlement lawsuit against the federal government for this very program.

His actions are incongruent with that pending lawsuit and have possibly hurt its chances of success. I fear the Governor has overreached his constitutional authority. Also as the Chairman of the Republican Party in Bedford County, our executive committee has voted unanimously to send a letter that will be hand-delivered to the Governor expressing our disappointment and disapproval of his actions.

As citizens of Bedford County, I am sure many of you have seen our community change over the past several years. A large number of constituents have expressed to me how parts of our community resemble the Third World. They cannot believe what has happened here and it shows, whether we want to accept the truth or not. We have been in denial as a community and have lacked the leadership to at least discuss the problem, I suppose, in fear of being called racist. We have seen a huge influx of illegal immigrants that have affected our wages, jobs and schools.

However, there isn't much we can do about it considering the Federal Government's epic failure concerning our immigration policies. Simply put our Federal immigration system is broken and it's taking its toll on our community, especially fiscally. Just last year I tried to pass a Senior Citizen Tax Freeze that would have helped many of our vulnerable seniors on fixed incomes. After much deliberation it was deemed too expensive at a cost of around $85,000 per year. Additionally, the County Commission voted to increase taxes to help fund new schools and a justice center. The County Commission raised fees and taxes at every opportunity to help with "budget shortfalls" even in this booming Trump economy. For the record, as a Bedford County Commissioner, I personally voted against any and all tax increases.

In closing, I believe in helping and resettling refugees, especially those that have been negatively affected in the Middle East by wars we have participated in. I believe that if you come to this country legally you are an American with all the rights afforded to you under the Constitution. I also believe we need a conservative amount of immigrants skilled and unskilled to fill jobs in our economy. However, Tennessee and Bedford County has done its fair share helping those from around the world. We are swamped within our schools with illegal immigrants to the point that there is extreme difficulty finding and funding teachers to work in our county, plus we are in dire need of English to Spanish translators. Some of our schools are over 50% illegal immigrants. This situation has been deemed a crisis level event by educators that have reached out to me personally who I will not name.

My question to you, as the voter and citizen, is how do we take care of new additional refugees that need the help and financial assistance they deserve when our community can hardly take care of the citizens and non-citizens we currently serve? We can no longer turn a blind eye to this huge crisis and Governor Bill Lee has just made our job much harder!

I encourage you to attend the Bedford County Committee Meeting where you can express your thoughts around this issue. Meeting to be held on Tuesday, January 21, 2020, at the Courthouse, 3rd floor.

--Brent Smith is a Bedford County Commissioner, representing the 1st District, and chairman of Bedford County Republican Party.

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  • Way to go!Thank you!

    -- Posted by melvaj on Fri, Jan 17, 2020, at 5:37 PM
  • *

    As a former County Commissioner I fully support this Resolution. Protecting our citizens and their tax dollars should be the first concern of those elected to the County Commission. I urge all County Commissioners to support this resolution !

    Chuck Heflin

    -- Posted by Cheflinjr on Sun, Jan 19, 2020, at 5:48 PM
  • We have real problems here and stirring up hate against immigrants for a do nothing resolution will not solve them.

    -- Posted by escrita.sue on Mon, Jan 20, 2020, at 4:22 PM
  • Once again there is a huge difference between refugees and immigrants. Governor Lee is talking about refugees!! Also you talk about illegal immigrants in our community exactly where are you getting your data and how do you know that all the immigrants in the area are illegal? And that the schools demographics are filled with undocumented children?? My child is a straight A student and has had no problem with the diversity of the dchools. Matter of fact as a Family of Color we love it!!! Also those immigrants pay taxes and boost our economy every time they go to Walmart,Kroger's,buy gas..etc!! The reason this town looks like a third world country is because you have a small number of slumlords in the area that own the majority of rental properties whom they do not take care of!!!! I think you are spreading right-wing propaganda and false information!! I can guarantee the majority of you people are here because your ancestors immigrated to America!!! America is a melting pot of different ethnicities.. religions and skilled individuals, that's what makes it great!! I'm sure none of you have any problems eating at the local Mexican restaurants in town or hiring Mexican workers for low wages!!! I think this is straight bigotry.. racism..xenophobia and crock of you-know-what!! Towns evolve over the years. Just like this county used to be a Union County during the Civil War. Now you have folks waving Confederate flag daily. (Which is odd to me. How can you wave a flag of a group of treasonous individuals that actually fought a war against AMERICA!!! 🙄) You forgot to add that the Refugees are heavily vetted and Bedford County has only had 5...YES 5 Refugees in so many years!!!! And they are not financially assisted by our tax dollars!!! I wish people would do research from reputable sites for themselves before making a decision instead of listening to one of the Right wing Good Ole Boys from Bedford County!!! 🙄🙄 Here's some FACTS FOR EVERYONE!!! (See link below)

    BTW..I was proud of Mr. Castleman and the rest of the community that spoke up against this absurd idea!!! You all give me hope for our community!!! And it was clear what the majority wanted. You had three or four uniformed people speak up for this and then we had triple that amount of citizens that spoke out with facts and don't want this!! Even the commissioners looked aggravated and appalled that this was even brought before them. So my advice again is do your research for facts and stop listening to the biased right wing media that does nothing but spread hate and fear mongering!!! ✊✌️

    PS....Mr. Brent Smith, you seem to support Donald Trump. Why did he block Muslim refugees from Syria and and a few other countries, but Trump didn't block Saudi Arabia??? I mean that's where the majority of the 9/11 attackers came from!! Maybe it's because Trump does business with the Saudis??? 🤔🙄 Maybe he should show his taxes like he's said he would for years now. 🙄🙄🤔🤔

    Lastly my Name is Nicole Seay! I'm using the account my father gifted me. So I'm not the name on the account. He has nothing to do with my opinion. 😉✌️


    -- Posted by tommyreed on Thu, Jan 23, 2020, at 10:09 AM
  • Mr. Melton and Mr. Carney...how about you let a Bedford County citizen give there rebuttal to this article and actually share some facts on the matter??? 👍👍😉

    -- Posted by tommyreed on Thu, Jan 23, 2020, at 10:11 AM
    Response by John Carney, Editor, Shelbyville Times-Gazette:
    We always welcome responsibly-written letters to the editor and guest columns, from both sides of any issue.
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