Tennessee lawmakers have accused President Joe Biden’s administration of secretly flying migrant children into their state without consulting them – as Kamala Harris faces growing pressure to visit the southern border to address the crisis.
Several videos obtained by WRCB-TV Channel 3 show a handful of planes carrying minor migrants arriving at Chattanooga’s Wilson Air Center during overnight hours.
Tennessee Senator Marsha Blackburn said in a statement the transportation of migrants there is taking place in ‘the dead of night without the knowledge or permission of the communities involved.’
A source with direct knowledge of the operation revealed somewhere up to 50 minors are transported at a time – some to reunite with family members in other states and others to be relocated to group homes.
The individual revealed that while the operation started in Dallas, it moved to small airports recently to avoid attention.
Customs and Border Protection encountered 178,000 migrants in April, a 90 per cent increase from April 2020 and slight uptick from March 2021 – when border guards encountered the most unaccompanied children in history.
Representative Ashley Hinson of Iowa introduced the ‘See the Crisis’ Act on Thursday before the House breaks for recess.
The bill proposes banning Harris from taxpayer-funded travel as she still refuses to visit the border to address the growing issues. It has been nine weeks since the Biden administration named her border ‘czar’ and the White House has insisted her priority is to deal with the ‘root causes’ of migration.
Tennessee lawmakers claim the Biden administration is now ‘secretly’ sending migrants who were in Southeastern holding facilities to other U.S. states ‘in the dead of night’. Several videos show a handful of planes carrying minor migrants arriving at Chattanooga’s Wilson Air Center during overnight hours
Vice President Kamala Harris was named ‘border czar’ in March, but since then has not visited the border. She has, however, traveled across the country to promote Biden’s $1.9 trillion American Rescue Plan and upcoming $4 trillion in infrastructure proposals
Harris has come under fire for traveling the country but not making a stop at the border. Here a Texas state trooper talks to Venezuelan migrants who crossed into the U.S. illegally on May 19
Refugees are also filing into shelters in Mexico near the border waiting for the outcome of their applications to enter the US
‘We have an absolute crisis at the border, and Vice President Harris was appointed to lead the administration’s efforts on the border crisis, but it’s been 56 days, and in that time she hasn’t been to the border once,’ Hinson told Fox News on Wednesday.
‘She hasn’t held a news conference on the administration’s efforts for a plan, and I think it’s time she does that.’
The latest increase in pressure on the Biden administration to address the border problem came as former president George W. Bush claimed the immigration system is ‘broken’ and slammed Congress for doing nothing to fix it.
In an interview with Fox News on Thursday he said: ‘You’re not going to solve this if there is politics.
‘If you think about where we are right now, you’ve got people on one side of the aisle blaming the former president, and people on the other side of the aisle blaming the current president.
‘And, the truth of the matter is, the system is broken because Congress has failed to act.’
Bush also said the real blame for the humanitarian crisis at the border is the smugglers who have no intention of getting these families into the US and are simply trying to make money.
‘I’m sure they’re telling them falsehoods – “follow me, I’ll get you in” – and these poor people have no way of checking that out and are finding themselves stuck at the border,’ he added.
In March, Biden named Harris ‘border czar’ as the administration faced a mounting crisis with mass migration from the south, causing an overwhelmed immigration system and overcrowded border facilities.
Since taking on the role, Harris has drawn criticism for not visiting the border.
The White House, however, has insisted since then that Harris’ position is to address ‘root causes’ in Central America and Mexico that lead to people fleeing their home countries for the U.S.
Representative Ashley Hinson is proposing a new bill Thursday that would ban any taxpayer-funded travel for Harris until she visits the border and submits a report on the trip to Congress
Customs and Border Protection encountered 178,000 migrants in April, a 90 per cent increase from April 2020 and slight uptick from March 2021 – when border guards encountered the most unaccompanied children in history
Hinson’s proposal would stop Harris’ vice presidential travel, including her security detail for out-of-country travel and the use of Air Force Two, until she issues a report to Congress on how to solve the crisis after finally visiting the southern border.
The Iowa Republican says the report would need to include briefs on any meetings she held with agencies at the border and plans on addressing the crisis. She also is interested in the amount of foreign aid the administration plans to give to Northern Triangle countries of Guatemala, Honduras and El Salvador.
In early June, Harris plans to travel to Guatemala and Mexico to talk with leaders there about the crisis.
‘I’m thinking of corruption, violence and poverty, the lack of economic opportunity, the lack of climate adaptation and climate resilience, the lack of good governance,’ Harris said earlier in May when listing root causes of the mass migration.
The immigrants were told by agents to remove their shoe laces before they are taken into custody and transported to border facilities
Mountains of trash are seen on the Mexican side of the border wall in Ciudad Juarez on Wednesday
The vice president says she doesn’t plan to stop at the border during her trip south of the border next month.
In recent months, there has been a historic number of migrants illegally crossing the border.
To deal with the issues with overcrowding of facilities in border states, the White House has started transporting migrants into an airport in Chattanooga, Tennessee from Southeast cities.
But lawmakers in the state claim they are not being informed or consulted on the movement of migrants to their communities.
‘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,’ Tennessee Senator Bill Hagerty told Fox.
‘A new reality is happening in our country—every town is now a border town.’
A Venezuelan mother kisses her 4-year-old son after they make it over the U.S.-Mexico border to seek asylum in the U.S. on Wednesday
Venezuelan migrants stand with a Texas state trooper after crossing illegally into Del Rio on Wednesday, May 19
Estimates show approximately 200,000 migrants have crossed into the U.S. along the southern border since February 2021. A Texas state trooper watches as Venezuelan immigrants wait to be taken into custody after crossing the border
Two migrants help each other up a bank after crossing the Rio Grande into the United States
Despite deflection of duties to address the border crisis, Republicans claim in order to deal with root causes, it is still important Harris visit the border.
Rather than going to the border, Harris has jetted around the U.S. the past few months to promote the $1.9 trillion American Rescue plan, which was signed by President Joe Biden in March.
She has also traveled to preview and garner support for the American Jobs Plan and American Families Plan, which when combined have a price tag of $4 trillion.
Part of her travels included a stop at a bakery in Chicago and a bookstore in Rhode Island, which the GOP immediately pounced on.
‘She’s putting yarn shops and bakeries before the border,’ Hinson said of Harris.
‘She’s Zoomed with the Mexican president, but I think that sends the absolute wrong message to the men and women that are putting their lives on the line every day, not to mention the men and women and families that live in these communities along the border and the communities of Iowa — every state is a border state,’ she added.
These refugees go about daily life in the centers on Wednesday, May 19, 2021
Refugees go on with daily life in shelters on May 19,2021 in Ciudad Juarez Mexico while waiting for their applications to be processed
In April alone, 178,000 migrants were encountered by immigration agencies.
The administration has been scrambling in particular to deal with the large numbers of children migrants arriving without an adult. There are tens of thousands of unaccompanied minors in federal custody after Biden promised he would not turn these crossers away.
Harris has already met virtually with the leaders of Mexico and Guatemala ahead of her upcoming trip.
Nearly two dozen Republican governors sent a letter to Biden earlier this month calling for action at the border.
In the letter led by Tennessee Governor Bill Lee, they claim the immigration crisis was spilling over into many U.S. states.
‘The crisis at our border is too big to ignore, and it’s spilling into ALL of our states,’ Lee wrote in a Twitter statement May 11 regarding the letter.
Mexican military soldiers patrol the Mexican side of the Rio Grande on May 18, 2021 as seen from across the river in Del Rio, Texas
Parents of migrant girls abandoned on Texas farm claim they were kidnapped in Mexico moments after the children were ferried to the US
Guatemalan national Daisy Sánchez, her boyfriend Ashley Padilla, of Honduras, and the latter’s brother-in-law, Gabriel Castillo, made the claim in an interview with Univision on Wednesday.
They added that they have spent nine days trekking through a mountain region in Mexico in the hope of crossing into the US to reunite with them.
Sánchez and Padilla are the parents of 11-moth-old Valeria Padilla. Sánchez’s daughter, Asheli, 5, is from a previous relationship. Castillo is the father of Nashly, 7, and Cristal, 4. His wife, Sandra Padilla, is still in Mexico, and it’s unknown why she did not join them on the trip.
In the interview, the three parents recalled the harrowing encounter with a group of armed men as they waited to cross the Rio Grande on a raft and join their children.
They claim that moments after the girls were ferried across the waterway, a gang suddenly held them up at gunpoint.
‘Let’s say (there is a feeling of) helplessness because you want to do something but you can’t anymore when they are pointing a gun at you and your life is between your back and the wall, and the lives of the girls are on the other side,’ Castillo said. ‘You feel powerless.’
Five girls from Honduras, Guatemala and Mexico were found May 9 by Texas onion and watermelon farmer Jimmy Hobbs and his wife on their property in the border town of Quemado, across from the Mexican state of Coahuila. The photo was posted on Twitter by Congressman Tony Gonzalez on Sunday after first being shared on border Facebook groups
Daisy Sánchez (left), the Guatemalan mother of two of the five girls who were found abandoned on a farm in Quemado, Texas, near a river across the border with Mexico, said in an interview aired by Univision on Wednesday that she has been trekking through a mountain area in Mexico over the last nine days and seeks to reach the United States so that she and her boyfriend, Ashley Padilla (right), can be reunited with their daughters. The couple is also joined by Gabriel Castillo, Padilla’s brother-in-law and whose two daughters are also in the U.S. at a migrant shelter in Brownsville, Texas
Gabriel Castillo said that an armed gang held the three parents at gunpoint and kidnapped them moments after the children had been crossed on a raft from Mexico to Quemado, Texas
According to Sánchez, they were taken to a stash house where other migrant families were being held, but managed to escape their captors through a broken window.
Ever since then, the three adults have been hiking through the mountain region with minimal food and water.
Sánchez explained that they plan to meet their families in the United States and petition the government to place the children in their custody.
‘It’s very difficult because the baby is very little at 11 months. She’s baby,’ Sánchez said. ‘The other is five. It’s very difficult to leave them there.’
Daisy Sánchez looks at a video for the first time that shows the moment a couple found her two daughters on their farm in Quemado, Texas, on May 9 after the children and three other girls, including her boyfriend’s two nieces, were ferried on a raft across the Mexico-United States border
Guatemalan national Daisy Sánchez and her two daughters, Ashlei (top right) and Valeria (bottom right)