Shelby, Sessions team up to block feds from housing illegal aliens at south Alabama base
WASHINGTON — Alabama’s U.S. Senators teamed up Wednesday in an attempt to block the Obama administration’s plan to house illegal alien juveniles at two outlying airfields at Naval Air Station Whiting Field, located in Baldwin County, Alabama.
U.S. Senators Richard Shelby and Jeff Sessions sent a letter to the Secretaries of Homeland Security and Health and Human Service, as well as the U.S. attorney general, expressing their opposition to the plan and criticizing the Obama administration’s handling of the “crisis at the southern border.”
Just two years ago, President Obama sent a letter to Congress outlining his plans to handle the surge at our southern border. Two years later, it is clear that President Obama’s plans for handling the situation have failed.
According to U.S. Customs and Border Protection, 38,566 illegal alien juveniles have been apprehended through May – a 69 percent increase over last year, and a number surpassed only by the record number apprehended in FY 2014. Since the beginning of FY 2014, 147,077 have been apprehended, yet only a small fraction have been removed from the United States.
Transporting some of these juveniles more than 900 miles away from our southern border to the State of Alabama, instead of expeditiously and humanely sending them back to their homes, will only make the situation worse. It rewards illegal conduct, and arguably renders the United States complicit in criminal conspiracies to violate our immigration laws.
According to the Government Accountability Office, between January 7, 2014, and April 17, 2015, ORR released illegal alien juveniles from its custody to a parent in 60 percent of all cases, an aunt or uncle in 13 percent, a sibling in 12 percent, an “other relative” in 3 percent, a first cousin in 2 percent, and a grandparent in 1 percent of all cases. Thus, in roughly 91 percent of all cases, these juveniles are eventually released to the custody of a family member located in the United States.
However, this Administration has failed to take any enforcement action against these family members – most of whom had some role to play in the juveniles’ illegal entry into the United States. And many of those family members are present in the United States unlawfully. The Administration continues to prevent the use of any of a number of commonsense tools to protect the integrity of our immigration system and the sovereignty of this nation.
Many Republicans point to President Obama’s “Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals” (DACA) program as the reason there has been an influx of unaccompanied children across America’s southern border. DACA granted administrative “legal” status and work authorization to many illegal immigrants, leading central Americans to flock across the border illegally in hopes of being granted amnesty through executive action.
The U.S. House of Representatives recently approved an amendment brought by Rep. Bradley Byrne (R-AL1) that would prohibit the Department of Defense from using any money to construct or modify facilities to house unaccompanied alien children, like they are attempting to do in Baldwin County.
The Department of Defense Appropriations Act, with Byrne’s amendment included, passed the House by a vote of 282 to 138. The bill is now being considered by the Senate.
“I especially hope the passage of my amendment sends a message to the Obama Administration that they should not bring these children to Navy airfields in Baldwin County. Doing so would put the children at risk while also compromising military readiness,” Byrne said in a press release.
Shelby and Sessions’ full letter can be read here.