Committee Condemns Migrant Camps in National Parks
WASHINGTON, D.C., September 27, 2023 | Committee Press Office (202-225-2761)
Today, the House Committee on Natural Resources held a full committee oversight hearing examining the Biden administration's use of National Park Service (NPS) lands for migrant camps. Committee Chairman Bruce Westerman (R-Ark.) issued the following statement in response:
"The Biden administration's border policies continue to tarnish every aspect of American life. Not only have these failures directly resulted in 6 million illegal crossings since Joe Biden took office, a devastating fentanyl crisis and an increase in terrorism threats, but now the administration is attempting to permanently alter our national parks by permitting the construction of migrant camps on some of America's most treasured lands. According to this precedent, President Biden's failing border policies are coming to a park near you. The National Park Service wouldn't even send a representative today to defend their decision to Congress. Instead, the National Park Service and the Department of the Interior are hiding behind Biden and his political henchmen. Congress has a duty to conduct oversight and this committee will not tolerate seeing Biden's bad policy destroy one of America's best ideas."
Since President Joe Biden took office, there have been more than six million illegal crossings of the southern border of the United States. Many of these immigrants travel to self-identified "sanctuary cities" across the country, including New York City (NYC). Indeed, more than 100,000 migrants have arrived in NYC since the spring of 2022. NYC has an additional layer of complexity, as they have a "right to shelter" law, which requires all persons, regardless of their legal status, to be provided with shelter and food, paid for by the city.
Biden’s failed border policies and the resultant migrant crisis are overwhelming NYC. Notably, NYC Mayor Eric Adams, a Democrat, recently made national news by stating that the Biden administration's current immigration policies will "destroy the City."
Last week, several Republican members attempted to visit the central processing facility for migrants arriving in NYC, in order to learn about the housing problems facing a city that's already at max capacity. The facility has become so overcrowded that many migrants have resorted to sleeping on the street. Despite requesting access days in advance, the members of Congress were denied entry and told no one was allowed inside, even though a Democrat delegation was given a full tour on Friday, Sept. 15.
In an effort to house the ballooning number of migrants in NYC, city officials turned to the National Park Service (NPS) Gateway National Recreation Area, specifically a site in Brooklyn known as Floyd Bennett Field. In an unprecedented decision, the city has entered into lease agreements with the NPS to permit the construction of a migrant encampment at Floyd Bennett Field.
Republican members visited this proposed site and saw firsthand that it's an incredible resource for NYC residents and visitors, providing kayaking, fishing and other outdoor recreation opportunities in the middle of an urban area. Turning the Gateway National Recreation Area into a migrant camp would immediately cut off the access NYC residents have enjoyed for years.
This hearing was a chance for elected officials from the NYC area to voice their concerns and gave members of the committee the opportunity to understand how this hasty and damaging decision was made. Notably, the administration failed to send any witnesses to testify to defend their decision to turn units of the National Park System into migrant camps.To learn more, click here.
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