Earlier this month the Tennessee State Assembly voted to approve a lawsuit against the federal government over refugee resettlement.
The state, which like North Dakota has withdrawn from refugee resettlement under the Wilson-Fish Act, is now challenging the right of the federal government to settle refugees within its borders based on the 10th amendment.
Tonight talk show host Chris Berg asked House Majority Leader Al Carlson, a Republican from Fargo, if he’d support North Dakota engaging in a similar lawsuit over refugee resettlement, and he said he would.
“Absolutely,” Carlson said when Berg asked him if he’d support a lawsuit. “We’ve done a lot of things. We’ve given our Attorney General the authority to sue the EPA. We’ve given him the authority on Obamacare…on right to life issues. We believe the 10th amendment is there for a reason. All the power not given to the federal government belongs to the states. We need to make sure we are not run over like a freight train.”
“In Tennessee they did the right thing,” Carlson added.
If I understand the legal argument here, the states would be arguing that the federal government has no constitutional authority to resettle refugees within their borders since they signaled their opposition to resettlement by withdrawing from the federal resettlement program.
Here’s the Breitbart article Berg and Carlson were discussing, which mentions North Dakota as one of ten states which have withdrawn from resettlement:
Tennessee is one of twelve states that have withdrawn from the program in which the federal government has, without statory authority, handed over the resettlement of refugees to “voluntary agencies” (VOLAGs) under a regulation concocted from thin air by the Department of Health and Human Services known as “the Wilson-Fish alternative program.”
The other Wilson Fish alternative program states are Alaska, Alabama, Colorado, Idaho, Kentucky, Louisiana, Massachusetts, Nevada, North Dakota, South Dakota, and Vermont.
In North Dakota the “VOLAG” is Lutheran Social Services, an organization which has become a lightening rod for criticism of refugee resettlement in the state for years.
LSS has said that North Dakota gets about 400 new refugees each year, with most being settled in Fargo but some also being sent to Bismarck and Grand Forks.
According to information from the federal Office of Refugee Resettlement (see below), North Dakota opted out of refugee oversight somewhat recently.
“ND Department of Human Services relinquished the role as State Refugee Coordinator as of FY 2011,” the document from the ORR states. “These duties are assigned to Lutheran Social Services/ND.”