As Tennessee Gov. Bill Haslam asks federal officials to stop sending Syrian refugees to Tennessee, newly elected Nashville Mayor Megan Barry says Nashville should remain an open place for all immigrants and refugees.
She also says that "reality, not fear" should dictate reaction to the terrorist attacks in Paris, France.
"I think Nashville has always been a warm and welcoming place," Barry told reporters on Monday prior to Haslam announcing his request to the federal government. "We work with key agencies like Catholic Charities to make sure that the the folks who are coming here have the basis of support and then have what they need when they get here.
"I believe that when Nashville can welcome new Americans that we should try the best we can to do that and give them the support that we need," she said. "We have welcomed many new people to Nashville and they have become incredible community leaders and members of our economic growth."
Barry's comments come as at least 27 governors, almost all Republicans, have asked for a temporary ban on sending Syrian refugees to their states. Those moves come in the wake of Friday's terrorist attacks in Paris that killed at least 132 people and left hundreds of others injured.
Barry, a Democrat in the technically nonpartisan mayor's office, is the leader of a city that is home to Tennessee's largest immigrant population where the vast majority of the state's refugees are resettled each year.
In a subsequent statement on her position, Barry said that Nashville's immigrant and refugee population has "contributed immensely to our economic growth and the cultural fabric here in Nashville.
"The refugee resettlement process is by far the most thorough of any processes to gain entry into the United States, and our nation has one of the most intensive screening processes for refugees in the world," she said.
"While vigilance and an abundance of caution are warranted, we should ensure that facts and reality - not fear - dictate our reaction to the terrorist attacks in Paris and around the world."
Immigrant advocates, including the Tennessee Immigrant and Refugee Rights Coalition and Renata Soto, co-founder of Nashville's Conexion Americas, have criticized Haslam's request to block Syrian refugees from entering Tennessee. Democratic lawmakers such as Sen. Jeff Yarbro, D-Nashville, have also condemned the move.
Barry's press secretary Sean Braisted said there are no plans to formally outline the mayor's position to the federal government via letter or other forms of communication.