Washington, D.C. – This week, House Armed Services Committee Ranking Member Smith (D-WA) led all 27 of his Committee Democratic colleagues in sending a letter to the Chairman of the Armed Services Committee urging the Oversight & Investigations Subcommittee to conduct oversight of President Trump’s plans to house migrants on military bases.
“I am deeply concerned that the Department of Defense is preparing to house tens of thousands of migrant families and children in tents on military bases,” said Smith. “Congress must fulfill its oversight duties and demand answers from DoD. To this end, my colleagues and I are requesting that the Republican lead House Armed Services Committee’s Subcommittee on Oversight and Investigations immediately look into the support and infrastructure DoD intends to provide.
“It is appalling and unacceptable that the federal government is planning to detain migrants in tents at such an unprecedented scale in the first place. Individuals do not have to be held in detention at all; there are safe, humane, and effective alternatives to detention that we can and should be implementing, such as the Family Case Management Program. While I continue to push for an end to the mass detention of individuals and families, DoD must provide answers regarding their plans to house up to 32,000 migrant families and unaccompanied children on military bases. We must hold the Trump Administration accountable.”
All Armed Services Committee Democrats joined the letter: Rep. Robert A. Brady (D-PA), Rep. Susan A. Davis (D-CA), Rep. James R. Langevin (D-RI), Rep. Rick Larsen (D-WA), Rep. Jim Cooper (D-TN), Rep. Madeleine Z. Bordallo (D-GU), Rep. Joe Courtney (D-CT), Rep. Niki Tsongas (D-MA), Rep. John Garamendi (D-CA), Rep. Jackie Speier (D-CA), Rep. Marc A. Veasey (D-TX), Rep. Tulsi Gabbard (D-HI), Rep. Beto O’Rourke (D-TX), Rep. Donald Norcross (D-NJ), Rep. Ruben Gallego (D-AZ), Rep. Seth Moulton (D-MA), Rep. Colleen Hanabusa (D-HI), Rep. Carol Shea-Porter (D-NH), Rep. Jacky Rosen (D-NV), Rep. A. Donald McEachin (D-VA), Rep. Salud O. Carbajal (D-CA), Rep. Anthony G. Brown (D-MD), Rep. Stephanie N. Murphy (D-FL), Rep. Ro Khanna (D-CA), Rep. Tom O’Halleran (D-AZ), Rep. Thomas R. Suozzi (D-NY), and Rep. Jimmy Panetta (D-CA).
The letter can be found at this link, and its contents read as follows:
The Honorable Mac Thornberry
House Armed Services Committee
U.S. House of Representatives
Washington, DC 20515
Dear Chairman Thornberry:
We write to express concern over the Administration’s handling of unaccompanied minors, migrant families, and those seeking asylum in the United States. While the Committee on Armed Services does not maintain jurisdiction over immigration matters, the Department of Defense has been tasked with providing temporary housing for up to 32,000 unaccompanied minors and migrant families at military installations. In addition, the Department has entered into a Memorandum of Understanding with the Department of Justice to provide military lawyers to assist civilian federal prosecutors in immigration-related proceedings.
The Committee on Armed Services has valid equities in the Administration’s tasking of the Department of Defense in its handling of these issues, given the Department’s broad support to several outside agencies including the Department of Justice, the Department of Health and Human Services, and the Department of Homeland Security. Therefore, we request that the Committee conduct focused oversight, to include open hearings, to examine the support that the Department of Defense has provided or will provide to other Federal agencies on border and immigration-related matters. Normally, an issue of this magnitude should be handled at the full committee level, but given the intensity of conference and the need for immediate oversight, we feel the House Armed Services Committee’s Subcommittee on Oversight and Investigation (O&I) is uniquely postured to conduct a robust investigation into these matters.
An earnest subcommittee effort would afford Members the opportunity to hear from the Department of Defense and to derive answers to the following critical questions:
1) What forms of assistance to other Federal agencies related to unaccompanied minors, migrant families, and those seeking asylum in the United States have been requested of or tasked to the Department of Defense?
2) How has the Department of Defense, including the military departments, assessed these requests or tasks and how have determinations been made for accommodating or fulfilling such requests or tasks?
3) What funding accounts and legal and regulatory authorities is the Department of Defense using to provide support until such support is reimbursed under sections 1535 and 1536 of Title 31, United States Code?
The use of military infrastructure, real property, and personnel for functions outside of core Department of Defense mission areas, warrants Congressional oversight from this Committee. With these pressing concerns in mind, we request that that you promptly initiate an O&I Subcommittee investigation, and we look forward to your response. Thank you for your kind attention.
Ranking Member, House Armed Services Committee
Ranking Member, House Armed Services Oversight & Investigations Subcommittee
Robert A. Brady
Susan A. Davis
James R. Langevin
Madeleine Z. Bordallo
Marc A. Veasey
A. Donald McEachin
Salud O. Carbajal
Anthony G. Brown
Stephanie N. Murphy
Thomas R. Suozzi