FIRST ON FOX: Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) intends to “release single adult detainees” into Tennessee while they await court proceedings, Republican Gov. Bill Lee announced Tuesday.
“We’ve been informed by ICE that they plan to release single adult detainees into Tennessee while they await court proceedings,” Lee said in a statement to Fox News Digital. “This is irresponsible and a threat to the safety of Tennesseans.”
“Furthermore, we already have a national security crisis at our border, and the Biden administration’s attempt to revoke Title 42 will only incentivize more illegal crossings,” he added. “It’s not compassionate to perpetuate a problem that leads to more exploitation and trafficking. 7,000 people unlawfully enter our country every day.”
It’s unclear how many detainees would be released into Tennessee, but Lee said: “This crisis is too big to ignore” and that the “only way to stop it is to secure the border.”
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“Placing the burden on states is not a solution, and we should not bear the brunt of the federal government’s failures,” he said. “We are demanding the Biden administration reverse their plan for detainee relocation. In the meantime, we’re also discussing options with the Tennessee Attorney General and our federal delegation.”
Lee told Fox News Digital that his office contacted the White House and asked them to reverse the plan to send immigrants to the Volunteer State. The White House and ICE did not immediately respond to Fox News Digital’s requests for comment.
The state is “exploring all options” to avoid the transfer of migrants into Tennessee, state Attorney General Johnathan Skrmetti said in a statement. “The lack of appropriate notice and the lack of transparency by both the federal government and its local partners means we must work quickly, but we are committed to ensuring the safety of Tennessee’s citizens,” he said.
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Tennessee Republican Sen. Marsha Blackburn said the move highlights how ‘Joe Biden’s border crisis” has made “every state is a border state, and every town is a border town.”
“Biden created this crisis by terminating successful Trump-era immigration policies, including Remain in Mexico and safe third country agreements. Tennesseans will not stand for this flagrant abuse of law and order,” Blackburn said in a statement.
The U.S. Supreme Court on Monday temporarily blocked a decision from the U.S. District Court of the District of Columbia to lift Title 42, the pandemic-era health policy that has been used to deter migrants more than 2.5 million times.
The order Monday from Chief Justice John Roberts comes as cities along the U.S.-Mexico border have been scrambling to prepare for an expected influx of migrants in anticipation of Title 42’s end.
Earlier Monday, 19 states, including Tennessee, had asked the high court in an application for an emergency stay that would keep Title 42 in place.
“The United States’ ‘it’s legal when we say it’s legal’ premise lacks any pretense of propriety,” the request for a stay said. “And its too-cute-by-half tactic of taking an appeal only after the States sought intervention, then moving to hold that appeal in indefinite abeyance is not substantively different from capitulation.”
“No one reasonably disputes that the failure to grant a stay will cause a crisis of unprecedented proportions at the border,” the applicants added.
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The Department of Homeland Security (DHS) estimates daily illegal crossings may jump from 7,000 to 15,000 per day once Title 42 is terminated.
The immigration restrictions known as Title 42 were put in place under former President Donald Trump in March 2020 and have prevented hundreds of thousands of migrants from seeking asylum in the U.S. in recent years. But as they’re set to expire, thousands more migrants are packed in shelters on Mexico’s border with the U.S.
Fox News’ Bradford Betz and Greg Wehner contributed to this report.