Syrian Refugees a Concern for Rep. Sparks

Dear Governor Bill Haslam:

Our great State of Tennessee is mourning the loss that occurred in Paris, France, after the horrific terrorist attacks on Nov. 13. This is the second time Paris has been struck by murderous terrorists in less than a year. The Washington Post is reporting that seven Governors across the country are refusing to receive refugees within their state. Governor Rick Snyder of Michigan and Governor Robert Bentley of Alabama, both Republicans, issued statements that their states would not be open to refugees fleeing the conflict in Syria. Snyder’s statement noted Michigan’s “rich history of immigration” but said, “our first priority of protecting the safety of our residents . . . It’s also important to remember that these attacks are the efforts of extremists and do not reflect the peaceful ways of people of Middle Eastern descent and around the world.”

Tennessee has always been very welcoming to immigrants. As a son of an immigrant, my own mother who is from Scotland, would agree. Tennessee has the highest Kurdish population and the Kurds have been great allies in the fight with radical terrorists and ISIS. Our State was struck by a terrorist attack recently in Chattanooga in July of this year. Four Marines and a Sailor were brutally shot and killed and other servicemen and a police officer were wounded. Our state has been fortunate to have avoided an attack until this year, in my opinion the attack proves how vulnerable our individuals and our military men and women are. Several news outlets are reporting that a Syrian passport was found at the scene of one of the attacks which belonged to a Syrian refugee.

I, along with hundreds, if not thousands, of Tennesseans ask for your support and your strong efforts to protect our citizens from these potential threats of terrorism. We respectfully and urgently request that you suspend all efforts to settle any Syrian refugees in Tennessee, through any agencies, until the U.S. Department of Homeland Security completes a full review of security clearances and vetting procedures.

I realize these are very difficult times in our nation, but also difficult times for decision makers, such as yourself. We need to pray for you, as our Governor and other leaders for wisdom and discernment during these difficult matters.


Mike Sparks
Tennessee State Representative
District 49


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