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Joint Committee Meeting Focuses On Refugees

Posted at 6:29 PM, Dec 09, 2015

A specially called meeting was held at Legislative Plaza to discuss refugee resettlement throughout the state.

In troubled times across the world, national and local leaders have called on lawmakers to file anti-refugee legislation.

In Tennessee Wednesday, members of the State Senate and House committee did their best to understand where the Volunteer state stands when it comes to the resettlement of refugees.

"We're here to talk about a very serious national security issue of which there is a lot of gray, there is some wrong's and there are some rights," Former Director of the U.S. Defense and Intelligence Agency David Shedd said.

In the joint meeting, members of the general assembly heard testimony from people like Shedd. He fielded questions on the growing concern of refugees in the U.S. and in Tennessee.

Shedd stated that it's the State's responsibility to ensure the federal government is allowing state governments to do risk management when it comes to screening procedures.

Here's what he said when asked by representatives if they could tell their constituents they're safe. "I'm sorry it's not a yes or no answer. I would not say they can go home and sleep well at night and nothing will happen, that is a false assurance," said Shedd.

A representative for the TN Dept. of Safety and Homeland Security said states should be included more in the federal vetting process for refugees. "We feel there has not been an adequate compliance with this mandate under Federal law," Commissioner Bill Gibbons said.

Meanwhile, refugees already here are begging lawmakers to not shut out future refugees. "Don't go ahead and because you are a Muslim, you can't have a second chance in life. What these refugees are looking for is a second chance, please give it to them," Kurdish refugee, Begard Howez said.