Iowa and Tennessee GOP governors demand congressional hearing over migrant flights to their states

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Republican Govs. Kim Reynolds of Iowa and Bill Lee of Tennessee on Thursday demanded a congressional hearing after they said migrants were being flown into their states without advance notice from the federal government.

On May 2, Iowa officials were alerted about an April 22 flight that landed overnight in Des Moines, the two governors wrote in a letter to Sen. Chuck Grassley. Federal authorities initially disputed a report regarding the plane, though state officials reviewed surveillance footage and began to press executives in the Department of Homeland Security and Immigration and Customs Enforcement.

Between May 6 and May 17, ICE, DHS, and the Department of Health and Human Services denied the flight was transporting migrants at their discretion, Reynolds added. Then on May 21, Reynolds said, HHS's Office of Refugee Resettlement confirmed 19 unaccompanied migrant girls were flown to Des Moines from Long Beach, California, to be united with sponsors in the state.

"We are writing to support your continued calls for the Senate Judiciary Committee to hold an oversight hearing regarding the current border crisis," the two governors wrote to Grassley. "We believe this hearing should also address the Biden Administration’s failure to provide notice and transparency in their movement of unaccompanied migrant children into states."

LATE NIGHT FLIGHTS TRANSPORTING MIGRANT CHILDREN TO TENNESSEE RAISE QUESTIONS WITH LAWMAKERS

On May 20, Tennessee lawmakers lashed out after local reporters revealed that four planes arrived at Chattanooga’s Wilson Air Center under cover of darkness. Children offloaded the aircraft with matching bags before packing into buses owned by Coast to Coast Tours as part of a contract with the Department of Defense.

Two of the buses, which reportedly hold 30 to 50 minors, were sent to Miami and Dallas, while at least 10 minors were brought to a dormitory in Highland Park, Tennessee.

Reynolds and Lee slammed President Joe Biden's administration for sowing "seeds of mistrust" and placing "an undue burden" on law enforcement agencies who were forced to determine whether or not human trafficking was taking place at the airports.

"These experiences sow seeds of mistrust in our communities, and work to intentionally subvert the will of the people for a secure border and a clear, lawful immigration process," the two Republicans wrote. "Additionally, the federal government’s failure to provide advance notification to states places an undue burden on our law enforcement partners to determine whether these types of flights constitute a criminal act of human trafficking or the federally-sponsored transport of vulnerable children."

Tennessee Sen. Marsha Blackburn, alongside several state lawmakers, wrote a letter in May to HHS Secretary Xavier Becerra and DHS Secretary Alejandro Mayorkas demanding the government leaders provide clarity on why the flights are taking place.

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“We write to seek information on the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) management of unaccompanied alien children (UAC) in federal custody and the facilities used to house them. We are particularly concerned about recent reports regarding the use of Chattanooga, Tennessee, as a central location for resettling UACs in the United States,” the document read.

The Biden administration has faced fierce backlash from both sides of the aisle over its handling of an unprecedented migrant surge at the southern border. Authorities have been faced with a wave of unaccompanied children and have scrambled to find alternative housing and sponsors, a move that's been sharply criticized as wasteful of taxpayer dollars.

HHS's Office of Refugee Resettlement did not immediately respond to a request for comment from the Washington Examiner.

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Tags: News, Iowa, Tennessee, Migrants, Border Crisis, Chuck Grassley, Border, Health and Human Services, Homeland Security, ICE

Original Author: Jake Dima

Original Location: Iowa and Tennessee GOP governors demand congressional hearing over migrant flights to their states

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