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White House rejects Republican bill to block housing of migrants on federal land

In a statement of administration policy, the White House said it strongly opposes the legislation introduced in August by Rep. Nicole Malliotakis, R-N.Y.
President Joe Biden speaks with US Customs and Border Protection officers as he visits the U.S.-Mexico border in El Paso, Texas, on Jan. 8, 2023.
President Joe Biden speaks with U.S. Customs and Border Protection officers as he visits the U.S.-Mexico border in El Paso, Texas, on Jan. 8.Jim Watson / AFP via Getty Images file

WASHINGTON — The White House on Monday said that the Biden administration "strongly opposes" Republican-sponsored legislation in the House that would ban the use of federal funds to provide temporary shelter to undocumented immigrants on federal lands.

The bill would prohibit federal money from being used to provide shelter to noncitizens, including migrants seeking asylum, on lands under the jurisdiction of the National Park Service, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, the Bureau of Land Management and the Forest Service.

Nicole Malliotakis at a news conference in Washington, on Sept. 14, 2022.
Rep. Nicole Malliotakis, R-N.Y., at a news conference in Washington on Sept. 14, 2022.Bill Clark / CQ Roll Call via AP file

"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," the White House said in a statement of administration policy.

The statement stopped short of a veto threat by President Joe Biden.

The House is scheduled this week to begin consideration of the bill, which was introduced by Rep. Nicole Malliotakis, R-N.Y., in late August. It's co-sponsored by more than a dozen House Republicans, including House GOP Conference Chair Elise Stefanik, R-N.Y.

The bill would also specifically revoke a lease between the federal government and New York City for portions of Floyd Bennett Field in Southeast Brooklyn along Jamaica Bay. In September, Mayor Eric Adams announced that the government and the city came to an agreement on housing migrants at the location. He said that this would help some of the more than 113,000 asylum-seekers who sought shelter in New York since the spring of 2022.

Earlier this month, Adams visited the site and said in a video posted on X that it did not have "the best conditions," but said, "We're managing a crisis, and we can't say it any better that we need help."

There were concerns within the Biden administration in September that New York City wasn't doing enough to handle the influx of migrants, NBC News reported at the time. The Department of Homeland Security sent a team to assess the situation in August and one senior DHS official familiar with the findings said at the time that the city has “no exit strategy” to ensure migrants can advance out of the shelter system.