White House Under Fire for Migrant Housing Plan

(LibertyInsider.org) – Thanks to some creative bureaucratic wrangling, New York State and the Big Apple obtained a contract from the federal government to lease Floyd Bennett Field and house up to 2,000 asylum seekers there in late August. The now-defunct Brooklyn airfield is part of Gateway National Recreational Center, raising concerns by conservative lawmakers that the airfield’s lease may violate the National Environmental Policy Act.

On November 13, Rep. Bruce Westerman (R-AR), chair of the House Committee on Natural Resources, and Rep. Paul Gosar (R-AZ), head of the Subcommittee on Oversight and Investigations, sent a letter to Brenda Mallory, the head of the Council on Environmental Quality (CEQ), requesting information about the Biden administration’s decision to lease Floyd Bennett Field to New York officials. The Republican lawmakers’ respective committees are investigating the legality of housing migrants/asylum seekers on federal land.

Westerman and Gosar wrote about their alarm at discovering that the National Park Service (NPS) “requested and received alternative arrangements” through the CEQ for the lease to comply with the National Environmental Policy Act. The committee chairs said the CEQ ultimately agreed to the scheme, paving the way for the NPS and the US Department of the Interior (DOI) to proceed with the contract.

Continuing, Westerman and Gosar expressed their concerns that the White House agreed to lease Floyd Bennett Field “for use as a migrant encampment.” They claim that decision was “not only inconsistent” with the National Park Service Organic Act… but [previously] recognized as legally perilous by the DOI. The lawmakers also said they had concerns about the CEQ’s involvement in deliberations in the first place.

Westerman and Gosar gave Mallory until the end of November to provide documents and information to help them ensure the “effective management” of national lands for housing asylum seekers/migrants on a temporary or permanent basis.

The lawmakers concluded their letter by reminding Mallory of their authority under House Rule X to perform “general oversight” of the management of federal lands.

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