U.S. Congressman Mark Green Explains His New Bill Addressing the Status of Migrant Children in Tennessee

U.S. Congressman Mark Green Explains His New Bill Addressing the Status of Migrant Children in Tennessee


Live from Music Row Thursday morning on The Tennessee Star Report with Michael Patrick Leahy – broadcast on Nashville’s Talk Radio 98.3 and 1510 WLAC weekdays from 5:00 a.m. to 8:00 a.m. –  host Leahy welcomed U.S. (R) Rep. Mark Green, a Tennessee congressman to the newsmakers line to outline his new bill that establishes illegal migrant children’s status that are coming into Tennessee and preferential treatment of refugees in Central American countries.

Leahy: On our newsmaker line our good friend, Congressman Mark Green from Tennessee. My congressman who does a great job, by the way. Good morning, Congressman Green.

Green: Hey sir. How are you? Good to be on your show.

Leahy: Well, we’re delighted to have you on. And we want to have you in studio someday soon. You’re introducing a new bill apparently or have to address the issue of migrant children being brought to Tennessee. Tell us about that.

Green: Yes. We found out that with this incredible border crisis, the open door and open border policy that Joe Biden and Kamala Harris have created, it’s resulted in a lot of children showing up at our doorsteps.

And what’s happened with the federal government and its clandestine methodologies decided they just fly these folks to Tennessee without letting Tennessee know. In fact, they asked Governor Lee and Governor Lee said no but they sent them anyway in the dead of the night.

The problem is the incentives that have been created, we have to shut the incentives down. What we’re basically saying is that the federal government has to ask the governor for permission.

The governor has to give permission. But one of the things we’re doing to make sure that the children are still taking care of we’re moving them from the control of HHS and the refugee program to Homeland Security so that it’s still an immigration issue and not some kind of refugee issue.

Making those guys be classified as migrants keeps the legal status in a way that the federal government can’t force them on Tennessee. The other issue is with this bill is we’re addressing the preferential treatment to certain countries in Central America that get automatic refugee status.

And so we’re trying to fix that as well. And then, of course, to take care of the children. We leading their ability to be housed with HHS because DHS, the Department of Homeland Security, the actual law enforcement folks don’t have the resources to house these children.

So if we leave that portion in law and then change their status, we can address the immigration issue and still take care of the children. And so that’s kind of what the bill does.

Leahy: So it’s interesting you mentioned something that was kind of a mystery to me. I never understood exactly why the Office of Refugee Resettlement was involved in moving these kids here.

Were they trying to just flaunt the law or using a loophole in the law by bringing them in under the Office of Refugee Resettlement? The issue is in the weeds but it struck me as interesting.

And I was wondering, well, how could they do that because these are illegal aliens because they are not coming in through the refugee program.

Green: So that doesn’t make sense in the law. And it’s very interesting. We approached multiple people, former immigration judges. We approached the folks here in D.C. who write the bills for us.

They’re our lawyers on our side that are Republicans and think the way we think. And no one seems to be able to agree on the status of these children and whether they could technically be refugees or not. And so we want to clarify that ambiguity by making sure that the unaccompanied children are, in fact, unaccompanied migrants.

And they can’t, therefore, be treated as a refugee because once they’re treated as a refugee, the state either has to get out of the refugee program completely, which governor chose not to do, or we don’t have to say at that point.

Leahy: Exactly. By the way, this was a very good catch on your part. I’m delighted you’ve done it because you’re kind of solving a bit of this mystery because there is an act called The Refugee Act of 1980 that governs refugees.

Green: That’s exactly correct. With Tennessee in the program, we can’t basically block refugees being resettled in Tennessee as long as the state is in the program because of the court rulings and the way the court rulings found on those original refugee laws.

So that’s why these children, I’m trying to classify them as unaccompanied migrants. And therefore, when they get into that status, it’s a law enforcement and a migration issue and not a refugee issue.

Which is essentially what they truthfully are. So that’s the dilemma we’re fixing. The bill, we’ve had it vetted by tons of different people. And I will tell you, Michael, the people in Tennessee who are smart on this came to us.

We shared the bill. They are the ones who provided the idea on this. This is constituents informing their congressman and educating me on some of the nuances of this that resulted in a much better bill.

Leahy: Well, what’s going to happen with this bill when you introduce it?

Green: What we’ve got to do is find four or five Democrats who are willing to buck Pelosi, which in this day and age is hard to find. It makes it hard for us to get anything done.

Leahy: Do we need to give you Alexandra Ocasio-Cortez’s phone number? Do you think she’ll be one of the four or five? That’s a joke. (Laughs)

Green: I don’t want that on my phone.

Leahy: (Laughs) That’s a bad joke on my part.

Green: (Chuckles) She’s the wrong one to go to. But there are a couple out there that are trying to save their seat and what’s going to happen in the next cycle.

Leahy: Will it be a Democratic member of Congress from a border state?

Green: There are a couple, actually, that are pushing for Kamala Harris to come down there. So we might be able to get those guys to say, hey, yeah, Let’s do it.

Leahy: But it could also be somebody from a state like, I don’t know Tennessee. Do you think Jim Cooper is going to jump in and say, oh yeah, we don’t want these illegal aliens shipped in here in the dark of night? Or Steve Cohen, you’re good friends?

Green: It’s hard to read where Jim is going to be on this one because of just the dynamics of what’s happening to his district. It’ll be a little bit hard to predict where Jim will be. We could sit down and talk with him about it. I would have to do that.

Leahy: I would like to be a fly on the wall when you have that conversation with Jim Cooper.

Green: Yeah, we’ve had several. (Laughter)

Listen to the full second hour here:

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Tune in weekdays from 5:00 – 8:00 a.m. to the Tennessee Star Report with Michael Patrick Leahy on Talk Radio 98.3 FM WLAC 1510. Listen online at iHeart Radio.












The Tennessee Star’s Investigative Reporter Corinne Murdock Talks Follow up Questions to Metro Officials About COB Vetting Process

The Tennessee Star’s Investigative Reporter Corinne Murdock Talks Follow up Questions to Metro Officials About COB Vetting Process


Live from Music Row Wednesday morning on The Tennessee Star Report with Michael Patrick Leahy – broadcast on Nashville’s Talk Radio 98.3 and 1510 WLAC weekdays from 5:00 a.m. to 8:00 a.m. –  host Leahy welcomed Tennessee Star investigative reporter Corinne Murdock in the studio to discuss her follow up discoveries after reaching out to Metro officials regarding the vetting and eligibility of potential COB members.

Leahy: Joining us now is our ace Investigative Reporter Corinne Murdock. So we’re talking about how you report the news. And one thing I like about the way you do it is it’s a way it should be done. When we have a fact we verify the fact and then we ask the subject to respond. So in this particular case, we’re looking at the facts are surrounding the criminal history of Ovid Timothy Hughes who appeared before the Metro Council select committee on elections and appointments back on February 4th of 2004.

We have the transcript of that interview. Headline convicted felon, Ovid Timothy Hughes told Metro council members he was a registered voter. And you can listen to the tape. And Dave Rosenberg who is the city council member who is not responding to our calls. We’ve asked to invite him to come on in and explain why the Metro City Council is not properly vetting members of this community oversight board. 11 members.

There is a legal requirement and that legal requirement according to Tennessee laws is that you have to be a registered voter. If you go into this video clip, Chairman Rosenberg of this committee specifically asked Ovid Timothy Hughes this, “Are you a registered voter?” response from Hughes, “I am.” Well, there’s a problem with that. Tell us about the problem you discovered with that statement by I-Ovid Timothy Hughes.

Murdock: Well, he was convicted in 2008 for mail fraud.

Leahy: And there is a press release from the Department of Justice. Also, if you go to that story at the Tennessee Star, I just mentioned you can literally see we have embedded the Judgment in a criminal case United States of America versus Ovid Timothy Hughes. You found this with your research. And basically, the defendant was convicted of mail fraud. It’s a violation of US Code 1341. And he was sentenced to one year and one day in prison. Federal supervision. According to the US code if you are sentenced for more than one year, but less than five years that’s considered a Class E felony.

Murdock: Correct.

Leahy: So what did you do to find out whether or not he’s a registered voter?

Murdock: Well, I reach out through the Secretary of State’s office and they were pretty quickly able to tell me no. He’s not a registered voter. And then they confirmed because he was convicted of a felony.

Leahy: So they knew he was convicted of a felony in 2008.

Murdock: Right.

Leahy: They confirmed and they removed him from the voter rolls.

Murdock: Right.

Leahy: Okay. So a couple of things here about this. The law says you have to be a registered voter to serve on the community oversight board. The Metro Council apparently is not vetting anybody who’s serving on the board from what we can tell. You’ve tried to ask them about their vetting procedures. Tell us what has happened.

Murdock: I haven’t heard anything back. But apparently, if you submit your questionnaire late you’re disqualified or excluded from appointment consideration of appointment I should say.

Leahy: What we don’t know and we’re going to put in an open record request into the Metro clerk’s office. There’s a little issue called a sworn statement. In other words, if you make a false sworn statement before any committee or any governmental entity, that is a misdemeanor. It’s perjury. It’s a misdemeanor. In this particular case what we know is that the testimony was apparently given before the committee was not sworn testimony because we went back and looked at it and Chairman Rosenberg for whatever reason did not say do you swear that everything you say is true.

He just did an interview. So if it’s not a sworn statement, apparently you haven’t committed perjury. We don’t know if his questionnaire was a sworn statement at the bottom. Nonetheless, I mean if he was to be subject to possible perjury charges I doubt anybody in the city government attorney general or district attorney here would prosecute that because obviously, this guy is a social justice warrior.

And it appears to me we have a two-tiered justice system. You can get away with it if you are a social justice warrior, but if you’re anybody else you can’t. So who else have you talked to say, what kind of vetting procedures do you do for members to confirm they are actually are eligible to serve on this controversial community oversight board?

Murdock: Well two of the major players  I’ve reached out to have been the vice mayor and I have also because he directly overseas a lot of this process with the appointments for this board. And then I’ve also reached out to the Executive Director Jill Fitcheard.

Leahy: Jill Fitcheard became the executive director when the previous executive director resigned in 2019 because it was too stressful for him. And so she’s served since 2019. The appointment of Ovid Timothy Hughes came under her watch it. So you would think because she served as a criminal investigator from 2008 to 2019 for the public defender that she would have knowledge about how to investigate people’s claims.

Murdock: Yeah, she hasn’t responded to me. Initially, she took my call. But then when she learned of what I relayed to her that he was potentially not a registered voter and it’s gone radio silence since then.

Leahy: You called her on Monday?

Murdock: No, last week.

Leahy: Last week you called her. Tell us what you asked in that conversation.

Murdock: I said were you aware that he is potentially not a registered voter? It appears that he might be a convicted felon. Were you aware of any of his criminal background and history?

Leahy: Him being Ovid Timothy Hughes who had resigned just a couple of days earlier from the community oversight board. And what was her response?

Murdock: She seemed a little shocked. To summary of our conversation, she said she wasn’t aware and she referred me to the clerk to get his resignation letter And that’s the last I’ve heard from her.

Leahy: So what did Ovid Timothy Hughes say in his resignation letter?

Murdock: Pretty much a couple of sentences saying thank you for everything. I’m resigning. it was very short. It was an it was in an email to the current chair. I think his name is Andres. I have to go back and look.

Leahy: Yeah, I think it’s what Andres Martinez or something like that.

Murdock: Yes.

Leahy: So he’s the chairman of it. He’s a volunteer member. This community oversight board authorized by a referendum approved by the voters in 2018. 58 percent to 42 percent, under the charter. they can do that. The law the state law allows Community oversight boards to investigate police misconduct.

They have taken that and gone far beyond that. And they’re looking into all sorts of ways to undermine the police by in my view, not yours, to constantly talk about allegations of systemic racism. And you know how it’s got to be changed, etc., etc. Seems to be a bunch of social justice warriors trying to undermine the police. Now, what’s interesting to me is that you did get one response late last night you said from somebody.

Murdock: I did. The Vice Mayor reached out to me.

Leahy: Vice-Mayor Shulman?

Murdock: Yes. And he said he’d reach out to me and said yes, he would be willing to speak but he didn’t respond to my questions. He said he would be willing to speak today.

Leahy: Okay. So this will be clever to see how he responds. What were your questions?

Murdock: So I asked him about their vetting process a little bit. I said, were you aware that of his criminal history?

Leahy: Of Ovid Timothy Hughes criminal history.

Murdock: Yes. Ovid Timothy Hughes criminal history. And also do you have any indication as to why he resigned because his letter didn’t state anything. And does your office knows any more information than what Ovid Timothy Hughes has already stated. And could you speak on the vetting process behind the board members that are granted the responsibility of overseeing police misconduct? And he simply said that he apologized for the delay in response and he asked if we wanted to talk today.

Leahy: Okay, so you are going to have a conversation with them. And we’ll see if he’ll be forthcoming. The other question I think to ask is are you going to confirm for a fact that everybody who serves is a registered voter? And the other thing is are you going to change your processes so that the information that they provide in their questionnaire and in their testimony before the Metro council is sworn so that if they tell a lie it is perjury. That’d be an interesting question to ask. We’ll see what the answers are tomorrow.

Listen to the full second hour here:

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Tune in weekdays from 5:00 – 8:00 a.m. to the Tennessee Star Report with Michael Patrick Leahy on Talk Radio 98.3 FM WLAC 1510. Listen online at iHeart Radio.
Photo “Nashville City Hall” by euthman. CC BY-SA 2.0.