State Rep. Hakeem of Chattanooga calls committee on refugee issues 'extreme partisan effort'

Staff photo by Robin Rudd/ State Rep. Yusuf Hakeem, D-Chattanooga, speaks to attendees as the Chattanooga/Hamilton County Branch of the NAACP presents a Jubilee Day Celebration hosted by First Baptist Church on January 1, 2020. Jubilee Day recalls Abraham Lincoln signing the Emancipation Proclamation, the document that freed the slaves.

State Rep. Yusuf Hakeem, D-Chattanooga, has criticized a Republican-led push to study the travel of unaccompanied migrant children through Tennessee - and specifically the decision to prevent Democrats from serving on the study committee - calling it an "extreme partisan effort that gives red meat to their base."

"I think it's heartless and lacks the Christian ideals that members of that group profess," Hakeem said.

He added the move does not represent the "goodness" of Tennessee and "to put a vulnerable group of people in your cross-hairs for political reasons is unconscionable."

Hakeem said if Republican leaders had read the contract governing the Chattanooga shelter, they would understand the policies are unchanged since the arrangement was approved under former President Donald Trump and licensed by the administration of Tennessee Gov. Bill Lee.