Roby, Rogers: Maxwell No Place for Immigrant Detainees

Jul 24, 2014 Issues: Immigration

WASHINGTON, D.C. — Under no circumstance should children detained at the Mexican border be sent to Maxwell-Gunter Air Force Base in Montgomery, Alabama, Congressmen Martha Roby and Mike Rogers said today.

The Congressmen became aware of ongoing talks between the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) and the Department of Defense about Maxwell-Gunter's ability to house recently-detained illegal immigrants. To be clear, federal agencies are at this time exploring options and have taken no action.

In a letter sent this week to Health and Human Services Secretary Sylvia Burwell, Department of Homeland Security Secretary Jeh Johnson and Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel, Rogers and Roby made clear their strong opposition to such an arrangement.

As a nation at war, the service members at Maxwell-Gunter play a critical role in our nation's defense, and both Members expressed concerns that the troops would be distracted by this effort.

"The housing, feeding and caring of immigration detainees would severely compromise the critical mission at Maxwell-Gunter,” the congressmen wrote. "Additionally, HHS’ failure to clearly communicate with Congress and local leaders underscores the Administration’s lack of concern for the impact its policies have on local communities and their limited resources.”

Roby and Rogers said they are working to prohibit illegal immigrants from being housed at military bases by including specific language in the special appropriations bill currently being drawn up in Congress. 

The letter says, “These reports follow the Department’s earlier effort to house immigration detainees at the Center for Domestic Preparedness in Anniston, Alabama.  Like the CDP, Maxwell-Gunter is an active federal facility with substantial operational obligations. Throughout the year, Maxwell-Gunter hosts thousands of Air Force personnel conducting time-sensitive training essential for our national defense.”

In early July, Rogers’ office learned the CDP was under consideration for housing illegal immigrants and Rogers pressured the Obama Administration into withdrawing the plan.

Rogers said: “This is the second time HHS has attempted to bring young illegal immigrants over 900 miles from the border to Alabama. This plan, the second time around, is just as severely flawed. I am strongly opposed to this proposal and believe these detainees would put an unnecessarily massive burden on the local community’s resources. I will continue to push for these children to be returned to their home countries as quickly as possible.  We must send a strong message that amnesty is not on the table and illegally crossing our Southwest border will not be tolerated.”

The situation at the border will get worse the longer immigration detainees remain in the United States, Rep. Roby said. 

“Under no circumstances should these children be sent to Maxwell-Gunter or any other military installation for that matter,” Rep. Roby said.

“The children must be sent back to their countries. We will do it with the utmost compassion and care, but it has to be done. Allowing them to stay is the least compassionate option because it invites even more children to endure the brutality of this organized trafficking scheme.

“The only way this influx of children at the border ends is when American planes start landing in their countries of origin bringing the children back. We must send a message that this scheme parents and children have been tricked into will not work.”