EXCLUSIVE: Tennessee Sens. Marsha Blackburn and Bill Hagerty are demanding answers from U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) after GOP Gov. Bill Lee announced the agency intends to “release single adult detainees” into the state while they await court proceedings.
In a letter to ICE Acting Director Tae Johnson Tuesday, first obtained by Fox News Digital, the Republican senators said they’re worried about reports that busloads of illegal migrants will be dropped off in Tennessee.
“Specifically, we have learned that the New Orleans ICE field office has been working in coordination with the Tennessee Immigration and Refugee Rights Coalition (TIRRC), a left-wing immigration advocacy group, to bus these immigrants to Tennessee,” the senators wrote.
“We have learned that as many as 50 single-adult, detained illegal immigrants could be bused to Tennessee at a time, with the possibility of multiple busloads each week.
Tennessee Sen. Marsha Blackburn is demanding answers from U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement. (Kevin Dietsch/Getty Images)
“Further, these individuals would be released into Tennessee while they await court proceedings,” the senators added. “Given the previous instances of ICE busing immigrants to Tennessee without notice, we are very troubled by these new reports and request that you provide more information about this situation.”
The senators requested information by Dec. 27 on the bussing plans, including timing and the total number of migrants and when coordination with the New Orleans ICE field office started.
In addition, they asked if the migrants have “undergone any vetting procedures” prior to their release in Tennessee and if ICE can guarantee that none of them are convicted criminals or on the terrorist watch list.
“We’ve been informed by ICE that they plan to release single adult detainees into Tennessee while they await court proceedings,” the governor explained in an earlier statement to Fox News Digital Tuesday. “This is irresponsible and a threat to the safety of Tennesseans.
"We’ve been informed by ICE that they plan to release single adult detainees into Tennessee while they await court proceedings," Tennessee Gov. Bill Lee said in a statement to Fox News Digital Tuesday. (AP Photo/Phelan M. Ebenhack)
“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. Seven thousand people unlawfully enter our country every day.”
The U.S. Supreme Court on Monday temporarily blocked a decision from the U.S. District Court of the District of Columbia to lift the Title 42 policy, the pandemic-era health policy that has been used to deter migrants more than 2.5 million times.
The Department of Homeland Security (DHS) estimates daily illegal crossings may jump from 7,000 to 15,000 per day once the Title 42 policy is terminated.
Migrants stand near the U.S.-Mexico border in Ciudad Juarez, Mexico, Monday, Dec. 19, 2022. (AP Photo/Christian Chavez)
ICE did not immediately respond to Fox News Digital’s request for comment.
Fox News’ Kyle Morris and Andrew Murray contributed to this report.
Kelly Laco is a politics editor for Fox News Digital.