Rep. Mark Green Cracks Down on Border Crisis with New Legislation

WASHINGTON—Today, Rep. Mark Green introduced the Migrant Accountability Act to tackle some of the key pull factors causing the record-breaking surge of unaccompanied minors crossing the southern border.

The legislation, which follows multiple reports that the Biden Administration flew unaccompanied alien children (UACs) into the State of Tennessee without the state’s consent, builds on his previously-introduced States Have a Say Act. In addition to requiring the Federal government to receive permission from a state’s Governor before resettling refugees within that state’s boundaries, this bill requires the same permission before placing unaccompanied alien children (UACs) in any state. It would also transfer legal custody of UACs to the Department of Homeland Security (DHS), the agency responsible for enforcing our nation’s immigration laws. Finally, the legislation would require UACs from non-contiguous countries to be treated in the same way as UACs from contiguous countries like Mexico and Canada, removing a double standard that has created massive delays in the removal of UACs from the United States once their cases have been processed.

Rep. Green said, “In less than 200 days in office, the Biden-Harris Administration has hung an open sign at our southern border—and every community will see its consequences. My bill addresses the key factors that are attracting UACs to our southern border and ensures that the Biden Administration doesn’t circumvent our states when it comes to placing the surge of unaccompanied minors crossing the border.”

“This legislation also removes the double standard of how UACs from contiguous countries are treated versus those from non-contiguous countries, fixing a mind boggling policy that has tied the hands of law enforcement. And finally, for both our national security and the safety of each child, it’s only common sense to give DHS jurisdiction of UACs as the agency that handles our nation’s immigration enforcement. HHS is a public health department and should be focused on combatting the COVID-19 pandemic and working to prevent future pandemics.”

Rep. Green crafted the bill in consultation with immigration experts and former colleagues in the Tennessee General Assembly:

Tennessee Senate Majority Leader Jack Johnson stated in support of the bill, “It is unacceptable for the Federal government to relocate unaccompanied minors into communities in Tennessee without the consent of state officials. I am grateful for Congressman Green’s leadership in addressing this pressing issue.”

Don Barnett, Fellow at the Center for Immigration Studies, who helped draft the bill, noted, “The flow of unaccompanied alien children over the southern border is largely an immigration program made possible by the comparatively favorable treatment accorded those claiming to be under age 18. It was a mistake to turn this category of immigration over to the Department of Health and Human Services. The resulting surge in numbers was predictable. This bill returns this immigration flow to immigration authorities under the Department of Homeland Security and affords state governors a measure of control over the placement of the minors in their states.”

Tennessee Senate State & Local Chairman Richard Briggs, who represents the Knoxville-based district where a plane carrying unaccompanied alien children landed in the dead of night, said: “I spoke with Congressman Green at length concerning the unacceptable relocation of illegal immigrants to Knoxville. His legislation is simple, straightforward, and provides the changes necessary to ensure our state has a say in the process.”

Tennessee Senate Finance Chairman Bo Watson, whose Chattanooga area district also saw a mysterious plane carrying UACs, said: “I was glad to provide my input and greatly appreciate Congressman Green seeking it. This bill fully addresses the federal government’s failure to seek Tennessee’s approval and should be passed immediately.”

Read the bill text here.