After reports surfaced about abuse at a Chattanooga migrant facility in mid-June, U.S. Sen. Marsha Blackburn recently spoke with The Herald-News about legislation she and other Congressional representatives from Tennessee have introduced to provide oversight of such facilities.
Blackburn said that the legislation — the Migrant Resettlement Transparency Act — would require better documentation regarding resettlement and would require federal officials to notify state and local officials about their intent to resettle migrants into the area.
“You’ve got to make the community aware. […] We have had so many questions,” Blackburn said. “And people want to know what the issue is.”
Blackburn said she has submitted a letter the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services regarding the alleged abuse and placement of migrants in the Chattanooga area, but she has not received a reply.
Blackburn said that the State of Tennessee recently denied the federal governments request to settle some migrants within the state’s borders; however, Blackburn said “they did it anyway.”
Blackburn said the legislation would make it easier to investigate and identify abuse in migrant facilities as well.
“These are children who have been abused and traumatized,” Blackburn said. “Tennesseans have asked us to get answers.”
In the refugee context, federal law requires regular reporting to Congress and consultation with state and local officials regarding placement, and Blackburn said there is no reason why the same requirements shouldn’t apply in the case of illegal immigrants — the education, medical, occupational and emergency resources of local communities are impacted, and she said they deserve basic transparency and consultation.
This legislation would require the Secretaries of Health and Human Services and Homeland Security to:
• Consult with governors and mayors of affected jurisdictions before any federally directed, administered or funded resettlement, transportation, or relocation of illegal immigrants; and
• Submit to Congress and governors and make publicly available a monthly, state-specific report regarding resettlement, transportation, or relocation of illegal immigrants that is federally directed, administered or funded or that involves immigrants subject to federal supervision pending immigration proceedings.
The report must include:
• The number of immigrants resettled, transported, or relocated, disaggregated by the number of single adults, members of family units, and minors, age, sex, and country of origin, and whether they are being resettled, transported, or relocated on a temporary or permanent basis;
• The methods being used to determine the age and familial status of such immigrant;
• The types of settings in which such immigrants are being resettled, transported, or relocated;
• The amount of federal resources being spent on resettlement, transportation, or relocation;
• Whether educational resources are being provided to such aliens; and
• Whether such aliens are being granted work permits, and if not, how they are supporting themselves.
The legislation has yet to pass Congress; however, Blackburn said she is confident that the measure will draw some bipartisan support.