Our Public Lands Shouldn't Serve As Encampments For Illegal Migrants

By Reps. Dan Newhouse (WA-04) and Nicole Malliotakis (NY-11)

This piece was originally published in The Daily Caller.

The Biden administration’s border crisis has raged out of control for almost three years now, and Americans in communities far from the border are paying the price. In the latest extreme example, the administration recently decided to allow temporary migrant housing at Floyd Bennett Field, part of the Gateway National Recreation Area in New York City.

This is a direct consequence of the disastrous open borders policies set forth by the Biden White House.

First and foremost, America’s public lands should serve the American people. Time and again, the Biden administration has supported actions to limit Americans’ access to public lands across the country, and it’s simply unacceptable that it now is attempting to utilize our public lands to build encampments for migrants. Americans deserve better.

Since Biden took office in January 2021, there have been over six million illegal crossings at our southern border, and that number only includes those who’ve been caught. Yet, instead of securing our borders, the Biden administration has instead refused to take action, encouraged illegal immigration through direct and indirect messaging, and rescinded various policies that proved effective in deterring illegal migrants.

The administration clearly had no plan to deal with the results of this influx and has now resorted to using America’s public lands and wasting taxpayer dollars to house people residing here illegally.

It’s up to Congress to fix this problem as the Biden Administration refuses to act. In addition to taking broader actions to secure the border, such as when House Republicans passed H.R. 2 earlier this year, we must take action to end housing on public lands. We must pass H.R. 5283, the “Protecting our Communities from Failure to Secure the Border Act of 2023.”

H.R. 5283, which passed the House Committee on Natural Resources with bipartisan support, would prohibit the use of federal funds to provide housing to specified aliens on any land under the administrative jurisdiction of various federal land management agencies including the National Park Service, the Bureau of Land Management, the United States Fish and Wildlife Service, and the Forest Service.

This legislation would retroactively cancel the city and federal government’s contract to house migrants Floyd Bennett Field which would cost the State of New York roughly $1.7 million per month in rent alone under the terms of the lease.

As members of the Congressional Western Caucus, a group of over 100 Members of Congress from across the country, we advocate for proper use of our public lands. As such, we will continue to support efforts that ensure America’s public lands serve the American peoples’ interests and do not serve as a backup plan for failed immigration policies from a flailing administration.

Nicole Malliotakis represents New York’s 11th Congressional District.

Dan Newhouse represents Washington State’s 4th Congressional District.

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