EXCLUSIVE: Lawmakers from Tennessee introduced legislation on Wednesday that would require the Biden administration to consult state and local officials before resettling migrants into their communities, after it was reported that migrant children were secretly being flown into Tennessee.
Republican Senators Marsha Blackburn and Bill Hagerty, along with Republican Congressman Chuck Fleischmann, introduced the Migrant Resettlement Transparency Act, which would require the Secretary of Health and Human Services and the Secretary of Homeland Security to consult in advance with officials in jurisdictions affected by federally funded migrant resettlement. That would include speaking with governors and mayors.
The administration would also be required to submit a monthly report to Congress detailing state-specific resettlement and relocation efforts.
As previously reported by Fox News, Blackburn and Hagerty voiced their concerns earlier this month about reports that the Biden administration was flying unaccompanied minors into the state in the middle of the night without the senators’ knowledge.
The White House has transported migrants into an airport in Chattanooga from where they have been bused to cities within the Southeast, as first reported by local news outlet WRCB-TV Channel 3. At least four planes carrying children have landed at the airport.
“Tennesseans have a right to know if the federal government is resettling migrants in their communities,” Hagerty said in a statement. “President Biden’s border crisis has turned every town into a border town, and the resettlement of migrants is an effect of that crisis that impacts citizens on a local level, placing new strains on schools, hospitals, law enforcement, and other emergency services.”
Blackburn indicated that it was not clear where else the administration might be carrying out similar resettlement efforts.
“In Tennessee, the Biden administration was caught using a Chattanooga airport to secretly traffic migrant children into the interior of our country without the knowledge or involvement of state or local officials,” Blackburn said in a statement. “We have no idea where else this is occurring and communities have a right to know what is happening in their backyard.”
Fleischmann added that federal transparency is crucial during the ongoing border crisis.
Tennessee Gov. Bill Lee led roughly 20 other Republican governors in sending a letter to the Biden administration calling for action at the southern border, noting that the immigration crisis was spilling over into many U.S. states.
Lee also added his name to a letter sent to Biden and Vice President Kamala Harris voicing concerns over apparent efforts to circumvent governors in resettlement efforts.
The Biden administration is dealing with a surge of migrants trying to cross the border, including 178,000 encounters in the month of April alone.