WASHINGTON, D.C. (News release) – Arkansas Fourth District Congressman Bruce Westerman issued the following statement Wednesday (March 8) upon notification by the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services that it would no longer seek use of the former Job Corps center in Royal to house unaccompanied minors:
“I am pleased the Department of Health and Human Services listened to the concerns of Garland County residents and local officials,” Westerman said. “This plan by the Obama Administration was ill-conceived and did not take seriously the protests of residents, myself included. I thank my friend, Secretary Tom Price, for his quick action to stop use of this site as a shelter for unaccompanied minors.”
On Wednesday, March 8, HHS sent the following notification to Westerman:
As you know, the Office of Refugee Resettlement (ORR) at HHS is identifying capacity, should it need to expand, to provide shelter for unaccompanied children referred to its care by the Department of Homeland Security (DHS). Aggressive management of shelter capacity is a prudent step to ensure that ORR is able to meet its responsibility, by law, to provide shelter for Unaccompanied Children so that the US Border Patrol can continue its vital national security mission to prevent illegal migration, trafficking, and protect the borders of the United States.
This email is to update you on the potential use of the vacant Ouachita Job Corps facilities located in Royal, Arkansas as a temporary shelter for unaccompanied children. Upon further review of the facilities, resources available and need, HHS is no longer considering the site for use as a temporary shelter at this time.
Please feel free to contact me if you have any questions.
Barbara Pisaro Clark
Acting Assistant Secretary for Legislation
U.S. Department of Health and Human Services
On Wednesday afternoon, Sen. Tom Cotton shared this statement on the decision:
“This is good news. I want to thank President Trump and Secretary Price for listening to Arkansans and removing the Ouachita Job Corps site from the list of possible locations for refugee shelters. I raised this issue with Secretary Price directly, and our staffs were able to work hand-in-hand to get this done quickly. I also want to thank the Royal community for their vigilance and for bringing this matter to my attention. This decision will help keep Arkansas families safe, and now they can use this facility for the betterment of their community.”