FIRST ON FOX: Dozens of House Republicans, led by the head of the Transportation Committee, are calling on Transportation Secretary Pete Buttigieg to stop migrants being housed at airports across the country, as the federal government scrambles to find ways to house illegal immigrants.
Transportation and Infrastructure Committee Chairman Sam Graves, House Republican Conference Chairwoman Elise Stefanik, Aviation Subcommittee Chairman Garret Graves and Representative Anthony D’Esposito, R-NY, along with 66 other House Republican lawmakers have written to Transportation Secretary Pete Buttigieg opposing plans to house migrants at airports.
The Department of Homeland Security (DHS) made written to New York in August recommending 11 federal sites in New York and nearby where migrants could be housed in order to relieve pressure amid a massive migrant surge into the Empire State, including airports.
Bloomberg News reported that those locations included New Jersey’s Atlantic City Airport. It also reportedly includes Massena International Airport, which is a U.S. port of entry for the U.S.-Canada border. It has already provided a hangar at JFK airport.
Meanwhile, hundreds of migrants have already been housed at Chicago’s O’Hare International Airport and the lawmakers say communities are concerned that similar moves will happen with their airports.
“We adamantly oppose these ill-conceived plans that blatantly ignore the true crisis at hand and would inappropriately utilize America’s infrastructure,” the lawmakers say. “Our Nation’s airport infrastructure was built to facilitate commerce and transportation, not to serve as housing for unvetted and undocumented migrants. We request that you enforce public airport grant assurances and reject such plans.”
The lawmakers say they are concerned about the “lack of regard” for security risks posed by housing migrants at airports and say that airports are generally required to request permission from the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) before they’re used for nonaeronautical purposes.
“It is your responsibility to direct the FAA to reject any attempt by a Federal, state, or local agency to use airport facilities for such a nonaeronautical and incompatible purpose as housing migrants,” they say.
They ask the department how many and which airports are being used to host shelters for migrants, and whether the FAA has granted any request from an airport of local agency to house migrants. They also ask to what extent the FAA has been consulted about the housing migrants at airports, and what the response was.
The migrant crisis at the southern border has had a knock-on effect on other states, including New York as migrants have traveled north — including with the assistance of states like Texas. New York City has declared itself out of room, while other states and cities have also called for more action from the federal government to aid them with the crisis.
Efforts to house migrants have seen significant Republican opposition. In a separate statement, Stefanik said she has “fought against Massena International Airport being converted into a housing site, turning Upstate and North Country into a surrogate ‘Sanctuary City.’”
“American airports are not camps for illegal immigrants and I will continue to do all in my power to fight Joe Biden’s open border policies and keep NY-21 safe,” she said.
The Biden administration has requested $14 billion in emergency supplemental funding, which includes $1.4 billion for “shelter and services for migrants released from DHS custody. This is in addition to $800 million that has been given to states and non-governmental organizations by the administration in order to aid with the many migrants who have been released into the U.S. interior.