Since reports of migrant children landing in Chattanooga emerged over the week, Tennessee’s legislators are urging the Biden Administration to cease importing migrants. In a press release, Senator Marsha Blackburn (R-TN) announced that Senator Bill Hagerty (R-TN) and Representative Chuck Fleischmann (R-TN-03) joined her in a letter to the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) Secretary Xavier Becerra and the U.S. Department of Homeland Security Secretary (USDHS) Alejandro Mayorkas.
It is apparent from the letter that Tennessee’s leaders at both the federal and state levels have been left in the dark on the Biden Administration’s orders concerning migrants. The legislators asked Becerra and Mayorkas to answer whether the federal government is using Tennessee as a central location for resettling unaccompanied alien children.
“For months, reports have detailed how thousands of children are being housed in neglectful conditions at mass shelters operated by HHS under a veil of secrecy. We are deeply troubled by the lack of transparency and accountability regarding the conditions that HHS is subjecting these children to,” read the letter. “The citizens of Tennessee are entitled to more information. After all, their schools, hospitals, and law enforcement agencies will bear the burden of this reported resettlement, which is the product of an ongoing border crisis that is making every town a border town.”
In the accompanying press release announcing the letter, Blackburn said that President Joe Biden’s policies are not only putting the migrant children at risk, but Tennesseans as well.
State legislators have expressed alarm as well. In a statement to The Tennessee Star, State Senate Majority Leader Jack Johnson (R-Franklin) asserted that the Biden Administration’s immigration policies are insane.
The Biden Administration must act immediately to end these flights, secure our borders and restore sanity to our nation’s immigration policy. Senate Republicans have long been opposed to unrestricted and uncontrolled immigration and refugee resettlement. Tennessee’s General Assembly was the first in the nation to file a lawsuit against the federal government over refugee resettlement. It is imperative our nation get control of our borders and properly vet those coming into our country and settling in our communities. The Biden Administration’s rapid rollback of President Trump’s immigration policies puts every state and every community at risk. It must end.
Chattanooga House members told The Star that they were alarmed, too. State Representatives Patsy Hazlewood (R-Signal Mountain), Robin Smith (R-Hixon), and Esther Helton (R-East Ridge) said in a joint statement that the Biden Administration is jeopardizing the security of this state and the migrant children.
Tennessee has always embraced and continues to welcome those who come here legally. President Joe Biden’s disastrous immigration policies, however, have harmed the security of the American people and now his administration is attempting to conceal a humanitarian crisis. It is disgraceful that unaccompanied migrant children are secretly being dropped off in Chattanooga with little thought and no plan for their care, safety, or well-being. We ask the President to fulfill his sworn duty as commander-in-chief and act immediately to secure our borders.
Tennessee filed a lawsuit against the federal government in 2017. The legislature sued the U.S. Departments of State (DOS) and HHS, and their respective secretaries, for forcing Tennessee to cover refugees’ health care under Medicaid. Tennessee argued that the DOS and HHS were violating the Tenth Amendment because they forced the state to pay for a federal refugee resettlement program using state treasury money.
Last year, the Supreme Court refused to consider Tennessee’s lawsuit.
WRCB reporters first discovered that migrant children were being imported into the state. As The Star reported, their reporters spotted multiple airplanes carrying migrant children from the southern border land late at night at Chattanooga’s Wilson Air Center. From there, the children were loaded onto a collection of buses.
One of the bus companies told reporters that they were under a contract with the U.S. Department of Defense. They shared that they also picked up flown-in migrants from Georgia and Alabama.
Earlier this month, Lee issued a letter to Biden and Vice President Kamala Harris urging them to quell the border crisis. 19 other Republican governors signed onto the letter.
“The crisis at our border is too big to ignore, and it’s spilling into ALL of our states,” said Lee. “I have led a joint letter with fellow Republican governors urging the Biden Administration to take immediate action at America’s southern border.”
The crisis at our border is too big to ignore, and it's spilling into ALL of our states. I have led a joint letter with fellow Republican governors urging the Biden Administration to take immediate action at America's southern border. pic.twitter.com/9Igedxj9qr
— Gov. Bill Lee (@GovBillLee) May 11, 2021
It appears that Biden and Harris ignored the letter. Instead, they flew migrants into states – apparently, without legislators’ knowledge.
Upon learning about the migrant children initially, Blackburn said that she was blindsided by news of the transportations.
“Our office has received no information from the Biden Administration informing us of a mass transportation of migrants to Tennessee,” said Blackburn. “It is absolutely unacceptable if the Biden Administration is facilitating a mass migration without any input or oversight from Tennesseans and the affected communities.”
The Star asked both Blackburn and Lee if the state planned to take any other actions to curb, mitigate, or reverse these migrant transportations. Neither responded by press time.
– – –