Refugee Turned U.S. Citizen Thankful for Entrance (Sky Arnold, Fox 17 WZTV)

Posted 12/10/2015

In 1997 Begard Hawez came to the United States as a refugee from Kurdistan.

Today, she's a U.S. citizen with a job and family.

"If it wasn't for the United States that rescued somebody like me I would be dead not having a beautiful family," said Hawez.

Holly Johnson with the Catholic Charities Tennessee Office for Refugees says successful refugees aren't unusual.

"Refugees bring in twice as much to the state as they cost the state," said Johnson to lawmakers at a joint House and Senate committee meeting Wednesday.

Some lawmakers worry the refugee program might be an avenue for terrorists to come here. Representative John Ragan worries about the expenses they create with government services and schools.

Ragan is proposing a bill that would let Tennessee retake control of the refugee program. The state ran it until the late 2000s when then Governor Phil Bredesen handed control to Catholic Charities.

"I don't think the concept of giving up complete control over taxpayer dollars was fully thought through there," said Ragan.

The downside of taking over is it may cost taxpayers more to run things.

Also, some question if the state can really do a better job than Catholic Charities.


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