Open Letter: Thank You, Tenn. Attorney General Herb Slatery, for Rescinding DACA Lawsuit Threat

Our founding attorney Elliott Ozment wrote an open letter to Tennessee Attorney General Herb Slatery regarding his decision to remove Tennessee from the threatened lawsuit on Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA). The Tennessean newspaper published Mr. Ozment’s op-ed on Sept. 18, 2017.

Dear General Slatery:

This letter is to extend a sincere thank-you for your courageous decision on September 1 to remove Tennessee’s name from a June 30 letter threatening litigation against the United States if the DACA program for Dreamers was not rescinded on or before September 5, 2017. While your action alone could not, and did not, prevent the threatening letter by the nine remaining states from ultimately causing the President to rescind DACA, it did accomplish the very important objective of establishing the official position of the State of Tennessee as supporting a humanitarian solution for resolving Dreamers’ immigration status as well as preventing our state from litigating a federal issue which should be permanently resolved by Congressional action.

Your action also set another important precedent: as far as I can recall, you are the first Republican in state office to take an official action to reverse a disturbing trend of xenophobia growing among many Republican state office-holders in the Legislature, as well as some who serve in Congress. Ever since the brave vote by Senators Corker and Alexander in support of the Comprehensive Immigration Act of 2013, those negative voices have become louder and have sought to become the majority in control of Republican politics. I am not unaware of the pain and political pressure brought upon you when you made the bold decision to refuse to represent the State of Tennessee in its challenge opposing Syrian refugee resettlement in Tennessee, another federal issue. I am not a Republican, but I do believe in a strong and viable two-party system which can debate the issues of our day and reach compromises in the best interest of all. Those who seek to pull the Republican Party into extreme right-wing and uncompromising positions outside the mainstream of traditional Republican thought do their party no favors and render a disservice to the Union we hold dear. Your example will hopefully set the standard for how those government leaders who are elected by popular vote deal with this and similar humanitarian crises in the weeks and months to come.

Finally, thank you for resurrecting my faith in the ability of today’s leaders to realize after searching the depths of their hearts that we are all created in the image of God, as the Bible teaches, and that we are all created equal and given by the Creator an unsurrenderable endowment of the right to pursue happiness, as Thomas Jefferson wrote and our founding fathers affirmed when they signed the Declaration of Independence. I had heard before your September 1 decision that you frequently knelt in prayer with Governor Bill Haslam, one of the kindest and most generous men in Tennessee politics today. I prayed daily that God would open your heart to see the right way forward. He did, and you did. Thank you again.

With my best wishes,

Elliott Ozment