Congressional Republicans object to sheltering immigrants at U.S. airports

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On Wednesday, U.S. Reps. Sam Graves (R-MO), Elise Stefanik (R-NY), Garret Graves (R-LA), and Anthony D’Esposito (R-NY) joined some of their Republican House colleagues in objecting to the Biden Administration’s use of airports as shelters for illegal immigrants.

In a letter to U.S. Transportation Secretary Pete Buttigieg, the law makers cited reports alleging the U.S. Department of Homeland Security (DHS) has proposed housing 60,000 migrants at four public airports in New York and New Jersey, similar to what has been done at Chicago O’Hare International Airport. Sam Graves, chair of the Transportation and Infrastructure Committee, and Garret Graves, chair of the aviation subcommittee, signed the letter along with more than 65 of their colleagues.

“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.”

In the letter, the coalition said airports are usually required to request permission from the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) before using their facilities for non-aeronautical purposes, even 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,” the coalition wrote. “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.”

Members requested that Buttigieg answer their questions about the issue no later than Nov. 20, and to detail how many and which FAA-regulated airports are being used to shelter migrants, and whether the FAA has received or granted any request from an airport to use aeronautical facilities to house migrants.