GOP senator outraged by weekly reports of migrant arrivals released by DHS


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EXCLUSIVE: A Tennessee lawmaker is hitting back at the Biden administration, saying the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) has failed to be transparent about the release of migrants into the U.S. after the emergence of notices going to cities in his states alerting them to migrants who have said they are heading there. 

Sen. Bill Hagerty, R-Tenn., is releasing DHS notices received by local officials in the state that show how many migrants are believed to be heading to them on a weekly basis.

Called “Intended Destination of Noncitizens Processed at the Southwest Border,” the notices explain how Customs and Border Protection first vet migrants’ biographic and biometric information against a number of databases before they are released into the interior.

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Senator Bill Hagerty is calling for local officials to provide notices they have received. (Al Drago/Bloomberg via Getty Images)

The notices say that arrivals could include migrants who have entered legally via ports of entry using the CBP One app, or entered illegally between ports of entry and who have either passed a “credible fear” screening or who are enrolled in removal proceedings and are released pending their removal hearings. 

While DHS does not transport adult migrants directly within the interior, the notice says that migrants will provide their intended destination to officials before they are released. Once migrants are released, they may be enrolled into Alternatives to Detention but are free to travel as they see fit, and federal authorities have no say over where they go.

In the notice given to officials in Tennessee, and provided to Fox News Digital, it told officials in Nashville, Davidson, Murfreesboro and Franklin that 573 noncitizens had provided their areas as destinations for the week ending Sept. 16, 2023.

Of those, 200 were from Guatemala, 200 from Venezuela and 100 were from Honduras and Mexico.

Hagerty accused the administration of a lack of transparency toward broader requests for information from members of Congress on how many migrants are going to which areas.

“Americans are well aware that, under President Biden, every town is a border town. Along with many other members of Congress and concerned citizens, I’ve sought transparency for three years from the Biden Administration regarding its resettlement efforts through legislation and oversight inquiries—to no avail,” he said in a statement to Fox News Digital. “With the revelation of letters stating exactly how many migrants are resettling in a particular area for a particular week, it’s now clear that the Biden Administration has this information and has simply been hiding it.” 

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“This begs questions that demand answers: How many migrants has Biden’s Department of Homeland Security knowingly resettled in American towns? How have these migrants been vetted? Do they pose a threat to American citizens? Americans and local governments forced to deal with the impacts of this President’s border crisis and the resettlement in their communities deserve to know what the Biden Administration knows.”

In response, Hagerty is setting up a website via which officials can submit the letter they have received. 

migrants at Eagle Pass, Texas border crossing lined up for processing

Migrants who crossed the Rio Grande and entered the U.S. from Mexico are lined up for processing by U.S. Customs and Border Protection on Saturday, Sept. 23, 2023 in Eagle Pass, Texas. (AP Photo/Eric Gay, File)

DHS stressed that it does not coordinate the travel of migrants, but that it does coordinate and share information with local officials and NGOs and where they intend to travel. Consequently, the purpose of the notification was to let officials know that noncitizens intended to travel to the area.

“DHS does not transport noncitizens to Tennessee. DHS works in close coordination with local officials, law enforcement, and NGOs to share timely information regarding noncitizens who have been screened, vetted, and conditionally released from custody pending the outcome of their immigration court proceedings,” a spokesperson told Fox News Digital. 

“We will continue to partner with communities hosting recently arrived noncitizens to identify ways we can continue to maximize our support, while enforcing the law and returning or removing those without a legal basis to remain in the country,” they said.

CLICK HERE FOR MORE IMMIGRATION NEWS COVERAGE 

The agency said that communication can ensure that migrants can connect with humanitarian aid and receive help with transportation while they go through the removal process.

The notices highlight the ongoing issues and tensions connected to the release of migrants into the interior. The Biden administration has said it needs more funding, including for removals and detention space as well as money for cities and NGOs receiving migrants. It has called on Congress to pass immigration reform and approve additional funding — including in a bipartisan Senate border bill and DHS’ most recent budget request.

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However, Republicans claim the border crisis has been caused by the policies of the Biden administration, including its reversal of Trump administration policies. They have called for an end to “catch-and-release,” additional wall construction and stricter interior enforcement.

Last week, Customs and Border Protection announced that the number of migrant encounters had hit a new record for February, with over 189,000 encounters for the month. 



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