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Transportation and Infrastructure Committee Chairman Sam Graves (R-MO), House Republican Conference Chairwoman Elise Stefanik (R-NY), Aviation Subcommittee Chairman Garret Graves (R-LA), and Representative Anthony D’Esposito (R-NY) led 66 additional House Republican colleagues in a letter to Transportation Secretary Pete Buttigieg opposing the Biden Administration’s allowance and encouragement of the use of airports throughout the nation as temporary shelters for illegal immigrants.
The Members of Congress cited reports that the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) has proposed housing 60,000 migrants at four public airports and other facilities in New York and New Jersey, as has been done at Chicago O’Hare International Airport.
“We adamantly oppose these ill-conceived plans that blatantly ignore the true crisis at hand and would inappropriately utilize America’s infrastructure. 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 coalition of Members wrote. “The Biden-Harris Administration’s abject failure to protect our border or support policies that will keep America secure is an unconscionable dereliction of the most fundamental duty the Federal Government has to the citizens of this country.”
The Members noted that airports are generally required to request permission from the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) before using aeronautical land and facilities for nonaeronautical purposes, like the housing of migrants, on an interim basis.
“These provisions prevent governments, including the Federal Government, from abusing taxpayer investment in aeronautical facilities and commandeering them at below-market rates for nonaeronautical and incompatible 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.”
The Members requested answers from Secretary Buttigieg by no later than November 20, 2023, detailing how many and which FAA-regulated airports are being used as shelters for migrants, whether the FAA has received or granted any request from an airport or government agency to use aeronautical facilities to house migrants, and any communications between the FAA and the DHS about the appropriateness of sheltering migrants at airports.