If the White House wants to bail themselves out of the border crisis using federally owned land, the House of Representatives just gave them a serious reality check.
In a bill passed on Thursday, The Daily Signal reported, the GOP-controlled lower chamber specifically prohibited any Washington funding to house illegal immigrants on land managed by the federal government.
The legislation was spearheaded by Republican Rep. Nicole Malliotakis of New York.
“Turning our federal parks into encampments for unvetted migrants from all over the world is unfair to surrounding communities, and the taxpayers being forced to foot the bill while having their public spaces taken away,” read a statement from Malliotakis when she introduced the legislation in October.
“I’ve joined local and federal colleagues to use every legal and legislative tool at our disposal, from lawsuits to this legislation, to stop the Biden, [New York Gov. Kathy] Hochul and [New York City Mayor Eric] Adams administrations from taking more open space from our citizens,” she added.
“I appreciate the House Committee on Natural Resources coming to New York City to see the grave misuse of federal land firsthand and thank them for quickly taking up my legislation, putting us one step closer to ending this madness once and for all.”
The bill, H.R. 5283, passed with 224 votes for and 203 votes against it.
Six Democrats voted for the measure, according to the website of the Clerk of the House of the Representatives. All were either in swing districts (Reps. Mary Peltola of Alaska, Jared Golden of Maine, Don Davis of North Carolina and Marie Perez of Washington) and/or represented districts that have felt the effects of the border crisis (Reps. Henry Cuellar and Vincente Gonzalez of Texas).
No Republicans voted against the measure.
The bill came after September hearings by the House Committee on Natural Resources, which ended with a condemnation of the Biden administration’s policy of using National Park Service lands to house migrant camps for illegal immigrants.
As a statement from the committee noted, examples including using the Gateway National Recreation Area in New York City as part of “an effort to house the ballooning number of migrants in NYC.”
“Republican members visited this proposed site and saw firsthand that it’s an incredible resource for NYC residents and visitors, providing kayaking, fishing and other outdoor recreation opportunities in the middle of an urban area,” the statement read.
“Turning the Gateway National Recreation Area into a migrant camp would immediately cut off the access NYC residents have enjoyed for years.”
Committee Chairman Bruce Westerman said in the statement that it was yet more proof “[t]he Biden administration’s border policies continue to tarnish every aspect of American life.
“Not only have these failures directly resulted in 6 million illegal crossings since Joe Biden took office, a devastating fentanyl crisis and an increase in terrorism threats, but now the administration is attempting to permanently alter our national parks by permitting the construction of migrant camps on some of America’s most treasured lands,” he added.
“According to this precedent, President Biden’s failing border policies are coming to a park near you.”
And, wouldn’t you know it, the White House put out a statement strongly condemning the House trying to stop them from using federal land to bail themselves out from those “failing border policies,” to use Westerman’s apt (and obvious) words.
“The Administration strongly opposes H.R. 5283, which would prohibit the use of Federal funds to provide temporary shelter to certain noncitizens, including migrants seeking asylum, on Federal lands falling under the jurisdiction of the National Park Service, the Bureau of Land Management, U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, or the Forest Service,” the White House said in a “Statement of Administration Policy.”
“The Administration opposes this legislation because it would significantly restrict the ability of the Department of the Interior and the Department of Agriculture to make decisions regarding the appropriate uses of their lands and resources, even in emergency or other situations.”
Now, naturally, this bill probably won’t be met with unalloyed joy in either the Democrat-controlled Senate — although swing votes like Democrat Sen. Joe Manchin of West Virginia and independent, Democratic-caucusing Sen. Kyrsten Sinema of Arizona may make shepherding it through the upper chamber a bit easier — or the White House, which is more solidly opposed to the measure.
However, in the larger budget fight — which is playing out in slow motion under new House Speaker Mike Johnson — the left may have to sacrifice funding for illegal immigrant camps on federal land to get their other spending prerogatives past both houses and into the president’s hands.
Heaven knows that using taxpayer funds to house illegal immigrants in national parks or other federal lands isn’t going to be the most popular policy with American voters, after all. They expect the money for the National Park Service and other similar agencies to go to recreational facilities and wildlife for Americans to enjoy and explore, not for temporary housing for illegal immigrants lured here by administration policy.
The so-called “Statement of Administration Policy” may be loudly against H.R. 5283, but don’t be surprised if President Biden rather quietly signs something very similar when he and the Democrats end up compromising with the House GOP.
This article appeared originally on The Western Journal.