Norris seeks meeting with Trump administration on refugees, lawsuit

State Senate Majority Leader Mark Norris says he is putting on hold plans for filing a lawsuit against refugee resettlement in Tennessee while seeking a meeting with officials of President Trump’s administration, reports The Tennessean.

Norris, R-Collierville, said Thursday he has talked with U.S. Rep. Marsha Blackburn and Memphis attorney John Ryder about the refugee situation. Trump arranging a meeting with the Trump administration to discuss state lawmakers’ concerns over the federal refugee program. Trump recently issued a controversial executive order on refugees.

Ryder, who has served as general counsel for the Republican National Committee since 2013, has an established relationship with Reince Priebus, who is Trump’s chief of staff.

“(Blackburn) agrees that this is an opportunity and encouraged me to pursue it so she may be helping us to settle it as well,” Norris said.

…Trump’s order, which caused widespread confusion and generated protests immediately after it was announced on Jan. 27, called for a travel ban from seven Muslim-majority countries for 90 days while also suspending all refugee admissions for 120 days.

… Norris pointed to a section of Trump’s executive order which leads him to believe the new administration might be open to suggestions from states like Tennessee.

“To that end, the Secretary of Homeland Security shall examine existing law to determine the extent to which, consistent with applicable law, state and jurisdictions may have greater involvement in the process of determining the placement or resettlement of refugees in their jurisdictions and shall devise a proposal to lawfully promote such involvement,” the order states.

In the event that he is able to secure a meeting, Norris said he would go to Washington, D.C. with someone from the Thomas More Law Center, the Michigan-based legal group that the legislature hired to represent it in a potential lawsuit.

“It’s well-timed, it’s a good opportunity for us to air our grievances short of filing suit, although we are still prepared to proceed with the suit, once the 120-day period expires,” Norris said, adding that the lawsuit could go forward depending on what the Trump administration decides to do in the future.

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Former Knoxville News Sentinel capitol bureau chief Tom Humphrey writes about Tennessee politics, government, and legislative news.
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