The governors of Iowa and Tennessee are pressing Congress to look into the Biden administration’s practice of transporting migrant children who crossed the U.S. border illegally into their states without prior approval or coordination with appropriate state agencies.
Govs. Kim Reynolds of Iowa and Bill Lee of Tennessee, both Republicans, have sent a letter to Sen. Chuck Grassley (R-Iowa) after migrant children were flown into their states under cover of darkness and without prior notification of proper state authorities and officials. What’s more, they noted that upon inquiring about the flights, the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services has been less than helpful in explaining the flights as well as providing information about who and where the children are.
One flight landed at the Des Moines international airport from California in April. Another landed May 20 at the Chattanooga airport, according to the governors’ letter.
“Two of the 19 children were unified with sponsors at the Des Moines International Airport, [a] source confirmed. The other children were bused to ‘locations in or near’ Kansas City, Missouri, Janesville, Wisconsin, Chicago, Illinois, Fort Wayne, Indiana and Detroit, Michigan,” WOI-TV reported Saturday.
Nevertheless, Reynolds and Lee requested that Grassley seek a Senate Judiciary Committee hearing on the Biden administration’s transportation of children from the border and from around the country, only to deposit them in various states without prior authorization and without notifying appropriate state officials.
“We are writing to support your continued calls for the Senate Judiciary Committee to hold an oversight hearing regarding the current border crisis,” they wrote. “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.”
While such flights were also common under the Trump and Obama administrations, Pat Garrett, a spokesman for Reynolds, said the April flight was different because it took place in the middle of the night and HHS officials initially denied it occurred, KCCI reported.
Reynolds, along with Tennessee Gov. Bill Lee (R), decried the administration’s lack of transparency.
“After significant progress to secure the border under the Trump Administration, the Biden Administration’s failed policies have incentivized the largest surge in illegal crossings in 20 years, including the largest monthly number of unaccompanied children in history,” they wrote.
“Both Iowa and Tennessee have faced a series of disturbing incidents involving the transport of unaccompanied children into our states, under the cover of darkness, with no advance notification,” said the letter.
Travel for migrant children is arranged through HHS’ Office of Refugee Resettlement in the Administration for Children and Families. In a statement, the agency said its mission is to reunite migrant children with vetted individuals, most often a parent or relative.
“Their parents and relatives are located across the United States, and ORR contractors use various transportation modes to unite unaccompanied children with their families. These modes include air and ground transportation options, taking into account child safety and wellness, travel time, and cost-effectiveness,” said ORR’s statement. “This travel may consist of flights originating from various locations with stops/layovers in different airports.”
Republicans have blamed the Biden administration for a renewed migrant crisis which they say occurred primarily as a result of the president’s decision to reverse most of former President Donald Trump’s border enforcement and migrant agreements forged with Central American countries and Mexico.
Those policies have been widely credited by Republicans and Department of Homeland Security officials for producing the lowest level of illegal immigration in years prior to Trump’s leaving office.
“We hope that our experiences help to shed light on the challenges faced by Governors across the country as we are forced to respond to the Biden Administration’s failed policies on the border,” Reynolds and Lee concluded in their letter to Grassley.
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