Help Commissioner Chris Elliott stop DoD/DHS immigrant tent cities in Baldwin County.

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As a Baldwin County Commissioner, I am concerned about recent media reports that the Department of Defense (DoD) in conjunction with the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) has asked the Navy to develop plans to build “temporary and austere” tent cities to house 25,000 migrants at abandoned Navy Outlying Landing Fields (OLF) at OLF Wolf in Josephine and at OLF Silverhill in Belforest, both in Baldwin County. The possibility of housing these illegal aliens has again been met with widespread resistance across our community.  Just two years ago Baldwin County was faced with a similar proposition from the Obama Administration’s Department of Health and Human Services (HHS)’s Office of Refugee Resettlement (ORR) to house unaccompanied minor aliens. 

Many of the same issues that led to the ultimate rejection of these sites two years ago remain today. There is a lack of critical infrastructure at these facilities to include water, power, and sewage. Even assuming a large contingent of federal law enforcement would accompany such a facility, local law enforcement would be significantly burdened dealing with illegal immigrants facing deportation that would almost certainly attempt escape. The economic and environmental impact to our community could be staggering particularly near these facilities.  Both facilities are located in areas subject to the impacts of hurricanes.  OLF Wolf, in particular, is situated very near the coast and would likely be under mandatory evacuation orders in even a Category 1 storm.  Planning for and affecting evacuations of these facilities would be a herculean task.  Baldwin County is the fastest growing county in the state with infrastructure that it already taxed.  The roadways in these areas are unsuited for the ingress and egress of 25,000 illegal immigrants.  An additional 25,000 residents along with the support personnel necessary to guard, feed, educate, process and care for these individuals would only serve to further tax our system.   

Lastly, the Baldwin County Commission has an existing contract with the United States Navy to utilize OLF Silverhill as a staging ground for hurricane preparedness, response, and recovery.  This site is our primary post disaster staging area for National Guard, power company, and Emergency Management. The DoD/DHS plan will interfere with our Emergency Operation Plans and, just at the beginning of hurricane season, will leave our community unprepared and unequipped in the event of a major hurricane to deal with such a disaster.  In light of these concerns and restated issues, we ask that you carefully review and reconsider the implication of such an action for our community. 

I will be in Washington on Wednesday June 27th to meet with DoD and DHS representatives and request that these agencies rescind the proposed planning and make plans for a different community, perhaps closer to the border, that would be more desirable and hospitable to the housing of these illegal aliens.