Republican lawmakers in Tennessee are demanding answers from the Biden administration after reports that it has been flying migrant children into the state in the middle of the night, without informing them.
The story: Videos that emerged this week appeared to show that the administration is flying migrants to Tennesse from where they are bused to Southeast cities.
A video obtained by WRCB-TV Channel 3 and published Wednesday showed minors, who were carrying matching bags, deboarding a plane at the Wilson Air Center in Chattanooga at night and moving towards several buses that were staged on the tarmac. It was reportedly taken last week on May 14.
Two of the four buses seen in the video reportedly belonged to the Coast to Coast Tours of East Point, Georgia, whose representative said were sent there as part of a deal with the Department of Defense.
The outlet reported that at least four planes were sent to the state carrying migrant children and that the station received a second clip from Saturday that showed more minors arriving at the Wilson Air Center.
An employee at the Coast-to-Coast Tours said the buses went to Miami, Florida, and Dallas, Texas. The employee added their buses had previously transported migrant children to Mobile, Alabama, and Atlanta, Georgia.
Escaping the public eye? A source said that the administration is moving between 30 and 50 migrants children at a time, some of whom go to group homes, and others are reunited with family members. The administration originally conducted the transportation in Dallas, Texas but opted for smaller airports to avoid attention.
A spokesperson for the Defense Department said: “From what I can tell, these were flights facilitated by HHS. The only support DoD is providing with respect to the unaccompanied minors is land and facilities for HHS to temporarily house them.”
Chattanooga Airport distanced itself from the reported operation.
“Wilson Air Center Chattanooga is a fixed base operator that provides only the necessary operational support, such as fueling and other ground services, to inbound and outbound aircraft,” spokesperson Albert Waterhouse said.
Republicans’ response: The GOP wants the administration to explain the operation.
Sen. Marsha Blackburn (R-TN) said the transportation of unaccompanied minors happens in “the dead of night without the knowledge or permission of the communities involved.”
“I have warned for months that President Biden’s failure at the border would result in a systematic resettling of migrants in our communities, burdening our schools, hospitals, and law enforcement agencies, and bringing an increase in drug trafficking and human smuggling. A new reality is happening in our country—every town is now a border town,” Sen. Bill Hagerty (R-TN) told Fox News.
“The Biden Administration refuses to secure the border and is instead scattering unaccompanied kids all over the country with no regard for the consequences. When we push back and demand answers, they cut off transparency and embolden one of the worst human trafficking crises we’ve seen at our border in the last 20 years,” Tennessee Gov. Bill Lee told the publication.
A letter to HHS and Homeland Security: Blackburn, Hagerty, and Rep. Chuck Fleischmann sent a letter to the secretaries of Health and Human Services and Homeland Security.
“These reports raise many questions that need to be answered, but the basic question that must be answered is whether the federal government is using Tennessee as a central location for resettling UACs in the United States. The citizens of Tennessee are entitled to more information. After all, their schools, hospitals, and law enforcement agencies will bear the burden of this reported resettlement, which is the product of an ongoing border crisis that is making every town a border town,” they wrote.
You can find the full letter here.
Earlier this month, the Tennessee governor and around 20 other Republican governors sent a letter to the president to address the crisis at the U.S.-Mexico border.
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