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Congresswoman Carol Shea-Porter

Representing the 1st District of New Hampshire

Shea-Porter and Armed Services Committee Democrats Call for Oversight of Trump Plan to House Migrants on Military Bases

July 12, 2018
Press Release

WASHINGTON, DC— Congresswoman Carol Shea-Porter (NH-01) today joined House Armed Services Committee Democrats in requesting that the Committee conduct oversight of President Trump’s plans to house migrants on military bases. Last month, the Pentagon announced it was planning to house up to 20,000 migrants on military bases.

“We write to express concern over the Administration’s handling of unaccompanied minors, migrant families, and those seeking asylum in the United States,” the Members wrote. “While the Committee on Armed Services does not maintain jurisdiction over immigration matters, the Department of Defense has been tasked with providing temporary housing for up to 32,000 unaccompanied minors and migrant families at military installations. In addition, the Department has entered into a Memorandum of Understanding with the Department of Justice to provide military lawyers to assist civilian federal prosecutors in immigration-related proceedings.”

In their letter, the Members noted that the Defense Department has been providing support to several agencies involved in implementing President Trump’s Zero Tolerance policy, which has separated thousands of children from their parents at the border. The Members described specific questions that the Defense Department must address.

“Therefore, we request that the Committee conduct focused oversight, to include open hearings, to examine the support that the Department of Defense has provided or will provide to other Federal agencies on border and immigration-related matters,” the Members continued.

 

The full text of the letter is below:

Dear Chairman Thornberry:

We write to express concern over the Administration’s handling of unaccompanied minors, migrant families, and those seeking asylum in the United States. While the Committee on Armed Services does not maintain jurisdiction over immigration matters, the Department of Defense has been tasked with providing temporary housing for up to 32,000 unaccompanied minors and migrant families at military installations. In addition, the Department has entered into a Memorandum of Understanding with the Department of Justice to provide military lawyers to assist civilian federal prosecutors in immigration-related proceedings.

The Committee on Armed Services has valid equities in the Administration’s tasking of the Department of Defense in its handling of these issues, given the Department’s broad support to several outside agencies including the Department of Justice, the Department of Health and Human Services, and the Department of Homeland Security. Therefore, we request that the Committee conduct focused oversight, to include open hearings, to examine the support that the Department of Defense has provided or will provide to other Federal agencies on border and immigration-related matters. Normally, an issue of this magnitude should be handled at the full committee level, but given the intensity of conference and the need for immediate oversight, we feel the House Armed Services Committee’s Subcommittee on Oversight and Investigation (O&I) is uniquely postured to conduct a robust investigation into these matters.

An earnest subcommittee effort would afford Members the opportunity to hear from the Department of Defense and to derive answers to the following critical questions:

  1. What forms of assistance to other Federal agencies related to unaccompanied minors, migrant families, and those seeking asylum in the United States have been requested of or tasked to the Department of Defense?
  2. How has the Department of Defense, including the military departments, assessed these requests or tasks and how have determinations been made for accommodating or fulfilling such requests or tasks?
  3. What funding accounts and legal and regulatory authorities is the Department of Defense using to provide support until such support is reimbursed under sections 1535 and 1536 of Title 31, United States Code? 

The use of military infrastructure, real property, and personnel for functions outside of core Department of Defense mission areas, warrants Congressional oversight from this Committee. With these pressing concerns in mind, we request that that you promptly initiate an O&I Subcommittee investigation, and we look forward to your response.  Thank you for your kind attention.

 

Sincerely,