Montana GOP lawmaker ‘outraged’ over report Biden admin plans to relocate migrants to northern border

A Montana Republican is pushing back following a report that the Biden administration is considering a plan to fly perhaps thousands of migrants who came illegally into the United States to locations along the U.S.-Canada border.

U.S. Rep. Matt Rosendale, Montana’s only House member, sent a letter to Department of Homeland Security Secretary Alejandro Mayorkas and U.S. Customs and Border Protection Acting Commissioner Troy Miller saying he was “extremely troubled” by the plan after CBP officials pressed for it as it has become exceedingly difficult for their agents to handle a crush of some 2,000 migrants who crossed into Texas earlier this week, according to The Washington Post.

The paper reported that the request comes as holding facilities along the southwestern border operated by CBP are overfull past capacity as immigration officials try to accommodate almost 4,500 unaccompanied minors, though many are in their mid-teens.

Under current law, illegal migrant children can only be held for three days, but many have been in detention centers and tent sites for longer periods.

Meanwhile, the Biden White House continues to describe the worsening situation as a “challenge,” not a “crisis.”

Flying migrants to other sectors is not uncommon. During the record surges of 2019, for instance, the Trump administration flew them to sectors with the capacity to detain and care for them, Fox News reported.

But those surges came during warmer periods, and it isn’t clear if DHS can provide migrants with warmer clothing if they are sent north to states like Montana, South Dakota, and Michigan, the Post reported. In addition, those facilities are not nearly as well-equipped to take in large numbers of migrants.

According to an email sent to the Post, CBP officials have yet to make a decision as to which facilities will be taking migrants in.

Already, the agency has utilized aircraft to take migrants from stuffed shelters and detention centers in Texas’ Rio Grande Sector to neighboring El Paso. And on Thursday, the Federal Emergency Management Agency said it would distribute $110 million to groups that provide food, water, shelter, and other provisions to migrants along the Tex-Mex border.

As for Rosendale, he is pressing Biden DHS officials to say whether or not the Post’s report is accurate while asking a number of questions about the alleged request, such as why lawmakers in potentially affected states were not notified, as well as specific numbers of migrants expected to be transported to northern border facilities.

“DHS, CBP, and the Biden administration have failed to contain this crisis, and it is now greatly affecting states thousands of miles from the southern border,” he wrote. “As Montana’s representative in Congress, I strongly urge DHS and CBP to reconsider proposals to house illegal aliens from the southern border in the state of Montana.” 

The lawmaker this week accused President Biden of an “act of spiteful partisanship” in undoing former President Trump’s border policies.

Republicans and others have criticized Biden’s immediate reversal of Trump-era border enforcement policies as contributing the most to the current migrant surges, including ending the “Remain in Mexico” policy and ending border wall construction.

In his letter, Rosendale requested that the CBP and the broader DHS address whether current conditions along the border constitute a crisis. He also called on Biden administration officials to quickly address his questions and concerns.

“I respectfully request a response to this inquiry as soon as possible, and urge DHS, CBP, and the Biden administration to increase communication with congressional representatives of the impacted districts,” he wrote.

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Jon Dougherty

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