Deputy Mayor Whalen's Statement on Health and Human Services' Decision

Lakewood Deputy Mayor Jason Whalen released the following statement today regarding the Department of Health and Human Services’ decision to suspend the use of military facilities to temporarily house unaccompanied minors from Central America who are crossing the border:

Today, the City of Lakewood received confirmation from the Office of Congressman Denny Heck that the Department of Health and Human Services has suspended the use of military facilities to temporarily house unaccompanied youth from Central America who are entering the U.S. We have also confirmed that our local military installation – Joint Base Lewis-McChord – is no longer being considered as one of these potential sites.

We thank Congressman Heck for working on behalf of the City regarding this issue. As we have stated before, this is a complicated humanitarian effort that requires critical thinking. With Lakewood being the host community to JBLM, it is the job of myself, Mayor Don Anderson and the rest of the Lakewood City Council to keep the well-being of the community and its neighboring base in mind.

I also want to thank Health and Human Services, Office of Refugee Resettlement and others who took the time and allowed us and other local governments to voice concerns and questions over this proposal. They took our concerns and made, what in our opinion, was the right decision regarding the use of JBLM’s facilities for this issue.

Congressman Denny Heck's statement

Also, Congressman Denny Heck, who represents the 10th District that includes Lakewood, issued the following statement:

I received word today that the Department of Health and Human Services is no longer seeking facilities for temporary shelters for refugee children from Central America at this time, including Joint Base Lewis-McChord in the 10th Congressional District.

I trust HHS to make the right decisions about what facilities are best for the refugee children, but this situation will not go simply go away because the children are not staying in our district. As we continue to experience this humanitarian crisis, I support providing emergency funding to provide adequate assistance to care for the children, as well as resources for proper immigration proceedings.

We are a proud nation of immigrants, and I will continue to push for common-sense, comprehensive immigration reform.