WASHINGTON – U.S. Rep. Jeff Van Drew (R-2nd) pressed Transportation Secretary Pete Buttigieg on the possibility of whether Atlantic City International Airport might be used to house migrants who could no longer be sheltered in New York City.
Van Drew used a House Committee on Transportation and Infrastructure hearing to ask Buttigieg whether the Federal Aviation Administration had been involved in a proposal under which the airport was one of 11 possible federal locations for housing the migrants.
Buttigieg said the FAA had not been involved in the development of the 11 locations. The secretary added that any FAA site would place a high priority on security.
Those opposing the suggestion of housing migrants at the airport have pointed to the proximity of the FAA’s William Hughes Technical Center and the 177th Fighter Wing of the New Jersey Air National Guard as among the security concerns.
Bloomberg News reported, Aug. 30, that the U.S. Department of Homeland Security had included the airport on the housing list. Almost immediately, there was a bipartisan outcry from New Jersey officials strongly opposed to the idea.
From Gov. Phil Murphy to Van Drew to the governing bodies of several Atlantic County towns, the message was the same: South Jersey cannot accommodate makeshift housing for migrants.
Nothing has come of the proposal since that initial Bloomberg report, and many officials say they think the suggestion is dead in the water due to local opposition. There has been no sign that any plans are being developed for migrants at the airport.
That does not mean it is a dead-letter issue with the public.
At the Sept. 19 meeting of the Stone Harbor Council, one resident voiced her concerns over a migrant shelter as close as Atlantic City International Airport. She said it kept her up at night, and she asked for assurance that the borough and the county could protect local residents.
Contact the author, Vince Conti, at email@example.com.