Sun. Jul 14th, 2024

The proposal to house migrant minors in Tunica is drawing opposition from state and local officials

By Vaseline May30,2024

The governor’s office says Reeves “will use every tool at his disposal to prevent Biden’s border crisis from impacting our state.”

Gov. Tate Reeves’ office has been in contact with federal authorities about a proposal to house unaccompanied migrant children in former casino hotels in northern Mississippi that have been vacant since 2014.

“The governor’s office is aware of these reported cases and is in contact with appropriate government agencies,” Deputy Chief of Staff Cory Custer told Magnolia Tribune. “Governor Reeves remains committed to ensuring the safety of Mississippians and will use every tool at his disposal to prevent Biden’s border crisis from impacting our state.”

Custer also said the Republican governor “will do everything in his power to ensure that Joe Biden cannot send an illegal alien into the state of Mississippi.”

The governor’s office did not specify which authorities were contacted.

Last week, reports emerged that the vacant hotel property in Tunica, once the site of a Harrah’s casino, could be sold to another private developer who wants to convert the property into an “influx care facility” for as many as 2,000 migrant children under 17 year. The Tunica County Board of Supervisors reportedly discussed the issue at a board meeting. Local officials have not expressed support for the proposal.

State Rep. Cedric Burnett (D) opposed the plan after being approached for support. He told WREG that this measure would not benefit the area or the state.

“I think if I were to, I think, locate immigrants in that location, it wouldn’t benefit Tunica, it wouldn’t benefit the casinos and it wouldn’t benefit the state of Mississippi,” said Rep. Burnett. “I think that location should be used to complement the gaming industry. You know, Tunica is a tourist town. we depend on gaming.”

Although gaming activity has declined in the area in recent years, there are still seven casinos with more than 3,000 employees in the North Mississippi/Tunica region, according to the Mississippi Gaming and Hospitality Association’s 2023 annual report. There are also more than 3,000 hotel rooms in the Tunica region, managed by more than 300 employees.

Tunica County Sheriff KC Hamp (D) expressed concern about the lack of a local hospital and the potential language barrier his officers would face if the migrant children were housed on the property.

“Patients need to be taken to hospitals in DeSoto, Tate, Coahoma County, along with area hospitals in Memphis, Tennessee,” Sheriff Hamp told WREG, adding that he needs more time to prepare his staff for the huge language barrier.

The proposal is part of the Office of Refugee Resettlement’s consideration of an indefinite-delivery, indefinite-quantity contract with the Department of the Interior for migrant housing.

U.S. Senator Cindy Hyde-Smith (R) sent a letter to the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services requesting more information about the proposal regarding the Tunica property. She stated that such a “resettlement project” has caused concerns among the people of the area.

“Constituents contacting me are deeply concerned about the potential negative economic impact that such a resettlement project would have on local communities and the costs that state and local government agencies would have to bear to house such a population,” she said. Senator Hyde-Smith. “It is unclear at this time whether Tunica, Mississippi, is able, ready and willing to handle such an influx.”

Senator Hyde-Smith further said that, as she understands, proposals continue to be submitted for consideration to be designated as an “Inflow Care Facility” with a deadline of summer 2024.

— Article courtesy of Frank Corder of the Magnolia Tribune —

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