Haslam OK with more Syrian refugees in TN

Gov. Bill Haslam said Thursday he has confidence in the vetting process for Syrian refugees and and has no objection to more settling in Tennessee, reports the News Sentinel.

His comments come a day after the Obama administration announced it plans to sharply increase the number of refugees accepted by the United States to 110,000 in fiscal 2017.

During an appearance at a luncheon in Anderson County, the governor said he recently met with U.S. State Department officials and Catholic Charities and is convinced “they’re doing a good job” vetting refugees coming to Tennessee.

The Republican governor said there aren’t many times he trusts the federal government, “but I do think they have all the right controls and procedures in place” regarding background checks and vetting for resettlement.

The Obama administration said the additional refugee intake is necessary to help stem a migrant crisis gripping Europe and the Middle East. The new target is a 29 percent increase over the 85,000 refugees accepted this fiscal year and a 57 percent hike over the 70,000 allowed in each year between 2013 and 2015.

More than 10,000 Syrian refugees have been allowed into the country this year, and new figures released Thursday provide a clearer picture of where they’re resettling.

Some 240 have resettled in Tennessee, according to the State Department Refugee Processing Center. Of those, 124 are in Nashville, 112 are in Memphis, three are in Germantown and one is in Spring Hill.

…Resettlement has proven controversial in many states, including Tennessee, where the Legislature voted earlier this year to instruct Attorney General Herbert Slatery to sue the federal government for noncompliance with the Refugee Act of 1980.

Proponents argued the legal proceedings were necessary because the federal government didn’t consult with the state on the resettlements.

Haslam allowed the resolution calling for the lawsuit to take effect without his signature. Slatery, however, declined to file the suit, saying the state was unlikely to succeed.