Byrne Sends Letter Opposing Housing Migrant Children in Baldwin County
Congressman Bradley Byrne (R-AL) partnered with Congressman Jeff Miller (R-FL) in sending a letter to the Obama Administration urging them to reject efforts to house migrant children at Navy airfields in Baldwin County, Ala.
The Department of Health and Human Services Office of Refugee Resettlement is evaluating whether airfields near Silverhill, Ala. and Orange Beach, Ala. would be suitable for housing illegal migrant children from Central and South America.
The letter highlights a number of concerns about safety issues posed to migrant children, as well as outlining the issues with using a military facility for a purpose outside of its intended use.
The letter was addressed to Secretary of Health and Human Services Sylvia Burwell and Secretary of Homeland Security Jeh Johnson.
Click here to read the letter. The text of the letter from Congressmen Byrne and Miller can be found below.
Dear Secretary Burwell and Secretary Johnson:
We write to express strong opposition to the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) pending decision to use Naval Air Station Whiting Field’s Naval Outlying Field (NOLF) Silverhill in Silverhill, Alabama and NOLF Wolf in Orange Beach, Alabama for housing of Unaccompanied Alien Children (UAC) from the U.S. Southern Border.
Our offices were notified by HHS’s Office of Refugee Resettlement that they plan to assess the viability of utilizing Whiting Field’s outlying fields for semi-permanent shelters if the number of UAC apprehended increases beyond capacity. We have grave concerns with these locations and do not believe they can adequately meet the needs of the minor children. The locations chosen for use are military airfields, and they lack the structural infrastructure.
There are also serious natural hazards that should be taken into consideration. This Gulf Coast area is prone to severe tropical storms including hurricanes, tornadoes, and flash floods. These natural hazards could present serious risks to the children, as well as the personnel responsible for overseeing the facility.
Utilizing these airfields for housing UACs will significantly alter the intended use of these properties. Military facilities serve an important purpose of training and supporting our nation’s servicemen, and these missions should not be pushed aside or ignored. The House of Representatives has acted on this issue, and an amendment was successfully added to the annual Military Construction and Veterans Affairs Appropriations bill (H.R. 4974) which would bar funds in the bill from being used to construct temporary housing for UACs on a military installation. The bill, with the amendment included, passed the House on May 19, 2016 by a bipartisan vote of 295 to 129.
It is troubling additional facilities are needed at all. The Obama Administration’s weak interior enforcement policies, executive action on immigration, and the perception of amnesty have become a powerful magnet that encourages illegal immigration across our border. The real focus needs to be on securing our borders, enforcing the immigration laws that are already in place, and discouraging more immigrants from making the dangerous trip across the border.
Given these strong and serious concerns, we urge you to reject this flawed proposal to house UACs at military installations on the Gulf Coast.