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Members Battle FAA over Housing Unvetted Illegal Immigrants at Airports

By Bradley Jaye 

Rep. Keith Self (R-TX) is leading the charge fighting the Federal Aviation Administration’s (FAA) new practice of housing thousands of “potential terrorists” at airports across the country.

The FAA has allowed the housing of unvetted illegal immigrants at airports, including Boston Logan, Hartsfield-Jackson Atlanta, and Chicago O’Hare after the overflow of shelters across the nation, fueled by President Joe Biden’s policies, which have ushered in almost 7.3 million migrants since he took office.

The extraordinary move has drawn the ire of congressional Republicans.

“America’s worst terror attack started at an airport – so it is unconscionable that the FAA is allowing unvetted illegal immigrants, and potential terrorists, to be housed in U.S. airports,” Self said. “Democrats’ lawless open border policies have turned American cities, schools, and now airports into processing centers for illegal immigrants. These troubling practices cannot continue.”

In the early morning, a migrant mother folds up a blanket next to three children who slept on the terminal floor overnight with their belongings scattered about. Migrants are being sheltered at Logan Airport’s Terminal E overnight. During the day, they are transported to welcoming centers, but they are sleeping on the floor and on benches in the airport overnight. 

On Thursday, Self led 36 of his colleagues in a letter to FAA administrator Michael Whitaker demanding answers regarding its dangerous practice which they point out is a distraction from the FAA’s mission and places the safety of those who travel by air in jeopardy. 

That letter demands answers on the authority the FAA is exercising to use transportation hubs for migrant housing, steps the FAA is taking to ensure the safety of the facilities and their operation, and an accounting of where migrants are being housed.

FAA’s new and dangerous practice was highlighted during a February 15 House Transportation and Infrastructure hearing. In the hearing, Rep. Scott Perry (R-PA) questioned Whitaker about how the FAA could seemingly violate existing regulations requiring approval of the FAA for airports to engage in non-aeronautical uses.

“The determination was that it did not interfere with aeronautical uses,” Whitaker replied.

Yet Whitaker appeared to have spent little time studying – or even familiarizing himself – with the issue before allowing the dangerous policy.

Perry asked, “How does walling off portions of the airport to house unvetted illegal foreign nationals, which passengers in America have to walk besides – these are unvetted illegal foreign nationals – how does that promote safety or utility or efficiency in these airports?”

“I think you’re out of my area of expertise. I’m not familiar with that,” Whitaker said.

After the troubling exchange, Self promised to take action. 

Self, in addition to leading the letter, introduced the Airport Immigration Enforcement Act to address the problem.

Unlike most legislation, which can often run for dozens or hundreds of pages, this two-page bill simply would prohibit the FAA administrator from authorizing the housing of illegal immigrants within an airport and prohibit the use of federal funds to house illegal immigrants on airport property.

CBS News Boston footage, which captured “dozens of families” of migrants sleeping on the floor of Boston’s Logan International Airport, helped amplify the issue for Congress.

Those families, which included toddlers and babies, have been arriving at least since August.

In November, when Massachusetts hit its capacity to assist 7,500 families in its emergency shelter system, Massport’s Interim CEO Ed Freni said, “We have to emphasize that Logan is not an appropriate place to house people.”

“They come in off airplanes from all different regions,” he continued. “We’ve been seeing about 20-25 a day.”

But despite those concerns, as the state’s inability to house the flood of migrants has escalated, the undeterred FAA has soldiered on with the practice of housing them at airports, significantly draining law enforcement and government resources.

According to CBS News sources, Massachusetts State Police officers are being paid overtime to assist at Logan overnight. Massachusetts Gov. Maura Healey, who appears to have directed the airports to house the migrants, has acknowledged the increased pressure placed on law enforcement by the airport-turned-hotel.

“The airport has been a wonderful partner, and I really want to thank the folks at the airport who are doing a wonderful job, including members of the state police who are working their regular shifts but who are managing the inflow and outflow of folks from the airport,” Healey told reporters at a news conference in January.

Healey’s office has estimated the migrant crisis could cost Massachusetts an astounding $915 million in 2025.

Self has pledged to keep pressing the issue, asking Whitaker to respond within thirty days about the troubling practice.

“It is imperative that the FAA operates within the bounds of the law and ensures that airports remain dedicated to their primary functions of facilitating air travel and commerce,” the letter reads.

The letters cosigners are Reps. Brian Babin (R-TX), Scott Perry (R-PA), Pete Stauber (R-MN), Nicole Malliotakis (R-NY), Byron Donalds (R-FL), John Joyce (R-PA), Aaron Bean (R-FL), Chris Smith (R-NJ), John Rose (R-TN), Lance Gooden (R-TX), Ralph Norman (R-SC), Harriet Hageman (R-WY), Randy Feenstra (R-IO), Guy Reschenthaler (R-PA), Michael Guest (R-MS), Randy Weber (R-TX), Dan Bishop (R-NC), Nancy Mace (R-SC), Ashley Hinson (R-IO), Kay Granger (R-TX), Andrew Clyde (R-GA), Jeff Van Drew (R-NJ), Matt Rosendale (R-MT), Tony Gonzales (R-TX), Jim Banks (R-IN), Lauren Boebert (R-CO), Mary Miller (R-IL), Tim Tiffany (R-WI), William Timmons (R-SC), Claudia Tenney (R-NY), Roger Williams (R-TX), Pete Sessions (R-TX), Bill Posey (R-FL), Neal Dunn (R-FL), Warren Davidson (R-OH), and John Carter (R-TX).

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