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Secret government charter flights paid for by taxpayer funds are quietly transporting migrants from the southern border to other cities across the U.S.
The flights, which take off from border cities like El Paso, Texas, are taking busloads of illegal aliens to various cities around the country including Jacksonville, Florida, Alexandria, Louisiana and Harrisburg, Pennsylvania.
Lawmakers are demanding more transparency about the flights – which do not appear on tracking websites – and where the migrants are going, with some leaders alleging they were not informed about the relocation plans.
‘Health and Human Services has misled me or lied to me several times. I have asked, they actually told me any flights coming into Pennsylvania we will notify you and the local schools,’ Congressman Dan Meuser (R-Pa.) told NewsNation. ‘They didn’t. They haven’t notified us once.’
Gov. Ron DeSantis (R-Fla.) criticized President Joe Biden’s ‘secretive operations,’ claiming the federal government has been bringing migrants into Jacksonville without alerting the state.
The call for transparency comes as the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention plans next week to end restrictions, known as Title 42, that have prevented migrants from seeking asylum under U.S. law and international treaty on grounds of preventing the spread of COVID-19. Border officials are preparing for surge in the numbers of migrants – and charter flights – when the health order expires on May 23.
NewsNation Correspondent Brian Entin recently visited the El Paso airport as the migrants were hoarded onto the planes. He will provide an undercover look at the government’s discreet charter flight operation Tuesday at 8pm EST on NewsNation Prime with Marni Hughes.
Secret charter flights paid for by the U.S. government with taxpayer funds are quietly transporting migrants from the southern border to other cities across the nation
Migrants are taken off of buses and transported to various cities around the country, often without the knowledge of elected officials in those regions
Everyday three to four buses carrying illegal immigrants arrive in El Paso, according to Border Patrol agents.
On Sunday alone, officials encountered approximately 1,200 migrants.
Entin, who recently visited the border, watched as busloads of migrants were shackled, frisked and guarded by ICE agents before being loaded onto two charter planes. He claims to planes were headed to Alexandria and Harrisburg.
After the flights, the migrants are loaded on to buses and discreetly relocated to American cities.
Those with criminal backgrounds are taken to detention facilities and unaccompanied minors are placed in shelters, however it remains unclear where the non-criminals and families are placed.
Rep. Meuser has sponsored a bill, known as The Immigration Transparency and Transit Notification Act, demanding governors and all relevant elected officials be notified when illegal immigrants are placed in their regions.
The legislation also requires quarterly reports providing assessment data who came into the country and where they went afterwards.
‘The American people are paying for this. It’s all taxpayer dollars obviously I think the American people have the right to know,’ he told NewsNation affiliate WBRE in December 2021.
Congressman Dan Meuser (left) and Gov. Ron DeSantis (right) both allege the charter flights brought migrants into their home states without notification
Marling, an asylum-seeking migrant from Nicaragua, holds her four-year-old daughter Ayling, as they are processed by a border patrol agent after wading across the Rio Grande river into the United States from Mexico in Roma, Texas on May 13, 2022
He also argued that providing data about the whereabouts of the migrants could aid in offering them assistance.
‘We’re not looking for addresses but let’s face it, we can actually help right if the Children Services knew that adolescents or even younger people are coming in,’ he explained.
With Title 42 ending next week, officials argue transparency surrounding the charter flights is even more imperative, especially as authorities brace for a massive influx of migrants.
Homeland Security Secretary Alejandro Mayorkas, who visited the southern border Tuesday, insists the border will not be ‘open’ once the health order ends.
‘It is very important to note that while, of course, we are preparing for the end of Title 42 based on the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s decision that it will end on May 23, that does not mean that the border is open beginning May 23,’ Mayorkas insisted.
‘We continue to enforce the laws of this country,’ he added. ‘We continue to remove individuals who do not qualify for relief under the laws of this country.’
U.S. Customs and Border Protection officials made 234,088 stops on the Mexican border last month, a 5.8% increase from 221,303 in March and a 22-year high. The figure is expected to triple once Title 42 ends next week
Homeland Security Secretary Alejandro Mayorkas held a press conference in Texas during a trop to the southern border on Tuesday less than one week before Title 42 is set to expire
Mayorkas (pictured center) visited the southern border on Tuesday and spoke with border agents as the country braces for an end of Title 42 on May 23, which is expected to lead to a surge in migration
Last month, Border Patrol encountered 234,088 migrants crossing from Mexico into the U.S. – a 5.8 percent increase from the month prior where encounters reached 221,303. The March figure was the highest since July 2021 when encounters were at 213,593.
The last few months have seen massive spikes as migrants head to the U.S. border in preparation for the end of Title 42, which is a pandemic-era policy that allows for instant expulsions without the immigration agencies hearing asylum claims in the midst of a public health emergency.
The CDC announced last month that the policy would end on May 23 after being in place for years during the pandemic.
But Arizona, Missouri and Louisiana filed a lawsuit in the Western District of Louisiana in April trying to extend the policy by arguing that the Biden administration has failed to account for costs to states if title 42 ends.
Judge Robert Summerhays has not yet ruled on the case, but the federal judge could block the administration from ending Title 42.
Migrants board a removal flight to Guatemala out of the Valley International Airport in Harlingen, Texas on May 17, 2022 because they do not have a legal basis to remain in the U.S.
Border Patrol officers process a migrant family after they crossed the Rio Grande into the U.S. on May 5, 2022 in Roma, Texas
Morale among border agents have been at an all time low as migration continues to surge amid staffing issues and policies they feel exacerbate the crisis.
President Biden has also refused to visit the border since taking office, instead delegating the issue to Vice President Kamala Harris, who has only gone to the U.S.-Mexico border once since taking office.
Border states are seeing massive migration numbers – and even Mayorkas has admitted that it will increase with the end of Title 42.
Some estimates show the average number of crossings per day going from the current 8,000 to 18,000 once the policy is no longer in effect.
The total number of crossings in April was made worse by the Ukrainian refugee crisis as the Eastern European country faces its third straight month of invasion and attack from Russia.
Many of these Ukrainian refugees went through the San Diego border crossing and the number of these migrants has dropped significantly since April 25 as the administration started directing those fleeing Russian aggression to U.S. airports by way of Europe – not Mexico.
Mayorkas also visited the border in February where he wasn’t greeted kindly by border agents.
WHAT IS TITLE 42?
Title 42 border restrictions are a public health order that enabled U.S. authorities to turn back most migrants, including people seeking asylum from persecution.
They were introduced during the pandemic and are currently set to expire on May 23.
But the number of migrants now attempting to cross the U.S.-Mexico border is at its highest level in two decades – with even larger numbers expected to arrive once the pandemic-era order is lifted.
Large numbers of illegal crossings have emboldened some Republicans to try to make the border and immigration an election-year issue. U.S. authorities stopped migrants more than 234,000 times at the Mexican border in April, a 22-year high.
Many of those were repeat crossers because Title 42 carries no legal or criminal consequences.
U.S. authorities say they are readying for as many as 18,000 daily crossings, up from daily average of about 7,100 in March.
Title 42 authority has been applied unevenly across nationalities.
Mexico has agreed to take back migrants from Guatemala, Honduras, El Salvador and Mexico – and limited numbers from Cuba and Nicaragua. High costs, strained diplomatic relations and other considerations have made it more difficult to remove migrants from other countries, who must be flown home.
Title 42 is one of two major surviving Trump-era policies to deter asylum at the border.
The little-used public health order that gives border authorities the ability to quickly expel nearly anyone encountered along the Southwest border.
Last month, the U.S. Supreme Court heard arguments on whether to allow the administration to force asylum-seekers to wait in Mexico for hearings in U.S. immigration court. That case originated before another Trump-appointed judge, in Amarillo, Texas.