Olson acts to give localities input on hosting migrant children
Rep. Pete Olson (TX-22) announced that he introduced legislation to give local communities a voice in the decision making process on where to host Unaccompanied Alien Children (UACs). Olson was joined by several local mayors who expressed concern over having a voice in where the children are located. The bill, H.R. 5138, the “Our Communities, Our Choice Act” will require the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) to hold a public hearing no sooner than 90 days after selecting potential locations. HHS must also consider input from State and local officials before issuing any grants to house these children.
“This legislation will give a voice to the communities that will be most directly impacted by this border crisis,” Rep. Pete Olson said. “Any city or town that chooses to care for these children is welcome to; my bill simply gives local communities a voice in a process being managed by the federal government. The mayors I have spoken to rightfully feel there should be an open process where residents and elected officials have an opportunity to weigh in on whether or not their community can afford to provide care for these children until they are returned to their home countries.”
Rosenberg Mayor Vincent M. Morales, Jr. said, “Our hearts go out to these children and their families. As a local government leader, I want to help ensure that they are housed and protected in a safe, healthy environment. However, should the Federal Government contemplate a potential facility in our community, I also want to be sure that we have a say in making a decision that is in the best interest of the children and the community, and that there isn’t any undue burden on our local taxpayers or services.”
City of Fulshear Mayor Tommy Kuykendall stated, “Unfortunately, cities are on the front line of providing services to those who are crossing our borders illegally. We are required to balance our budgets every year with little room for unexpected expenditures. Community leaders should be informed about the possibility of housing unaccompanied alien minors, and be required to consent before Health and Human Services places them within or near a community. If city leaders have agreed to their placement within their jurisdiction, costs should not be borne by the local governments nor should our residents have to compromise their health, safety and security. As Mayor of the City of Fulshear, I support Congressman Pete Olson’s “Our Communities, Our Choice Act.”
Simonton Mayor Daniel McJunkin said, “I am encouraged that Congressman Olson is leading the effort to protect the rights of taxpayers and cities in this way. That the leaders in our Federal Government previously sent signals that our southern border is open has created a truly tragic humanitarian crisis; one that could have been averted before it began had our President and DHS provided a proper immediate response. By becoming involved in this, Congressman Olson is sending a clear message to Washington that Cities will have a voice in this process and that they will not stand idly by to bear the brunt of the burden resolving this problem. I hope that everyone will support Congressman Olson as he works to protect cities in Texas and across this nation.”
Missouri City Mayor Allen Owen said, “As Mayor of a City that saw an influx of people coming into our City during and after Hurricane Ike, I saw firsthand what effect such an influx will have on our ability to take care of them as well as the effect it had on our already overcrowded schools. It needs to be our own decision on whether we have the capability of handling any such demands and not the Federal or State Government. I will be delivering a letter of full support from the Fort Bend Mayor & Council Association, which is made up of the 18 cities in Fort Bend County, next week in support of the “Our Communities, Our Choice Act” that Congressman Olson has introduced.”
The high volume of children entering the U.S. through the Texas border has the federal government scrambling for locations to house them. The White House’s border security failure should not become the states’ and local communities’ burden. States and municipalities should not be forced by the federal government to house these children without a voice in the process. Current cosponsors of H.R. 5138 include: Reps. Mark Sanford (SC), Roger Williams (TX), Candice Miller (MI), Ted Poe (TX), Michael Burgess (TX), Tom Cotton (AR), Diane Black (TN), Sam Johnson (TX), Tim Walberg (MI), and Kenny Marchant (TX).
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