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Biden would block bill to kick migrants out of national park

The White House and House Republicans have remained at odds over an agreement to house 2,000 migrants on federal land.
Biden would block bill to kick migrants out of National Park
Posted at 1:12 PM, Nov 28, 2023

The White House announced Monday it is opposing House Resolution 5283, which would prohibit the federal government from using land owned by the National Park Service for the purpose of housing migrants. 

The bill was proposed by House Republicans earlier this month after the National Park Service announced in September it had reached an agreement with the City of New York to host up to 2,000 migrants at any one time at the Gateway National Recreation Area in New Jersey. The one-year agreement was reached as New York City officials said they have struggled to handle the influx of migrants, some of whom have been transported there by other state governments. 

"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. 

Officials said that New York City has taken in nearly 100,000 migrants in the last year. The intention of the agreement was to assist New York City in operating a temporary shelter to provide housing and other services for a limited number of migrants.

The city agreed to pay an annual rent of $20.8 million plus an additional $7 million for management and oversight expenses. The agreement allows for the housing of migrants in portions of the Floyd Bennett Field Historic District, which uses 1,450 acres of the 27,000-acre National Park. 

SEE MORE: NYC migrant shelters are at capacity as winter approaches

Republicans on the House Committee on Natural Resources have condemned the agreement. 

"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. According to this precedent, President Biden's failing border policies are coming to a park near you," Committee Chairman Bruce Westerman, R-Arkansas, said. 

The Biden administration said that it would veto any proposal that would get through Congress. Even if the bill is passed by the House, it's unlikely to get support in the Democratic-held Senate. 

Proponents for the agreement say that the Floyd Bennett Field Historic District is the largest single publicly owned, managed, and accessible underdeveloped parcel of land in New York City.

"Many of the buildings and structures at the site today are unoccupied and in varying degrees of disrepair or ruin. It is an expansive landscape characterized by open fields, extensive areas of concrete and asphalt pavement, young second growth thickets and woods, engineered and natural shorelines, and a variety of buildings clustered into what were historically flight-path clear zones," the National Park Service said.

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