Tennessee lawmakers are raising the alarm amid reports that President Joe Biden’s administration is flying unaccompanied illegal immigrant children into the state in the middle of the night without any prior notification.
According to a WRCB-TV Channel 3 report last week, Biden’s administration is transporting the children to Chattanooga’s Wilson Air Center overnight, at which point they are bused to several cities throughout the southeast.
A source familiar with the situation told the local news channel that around 30 to 50 minors are transported at a time, with some heading to reunite with family members, while others are sent to group homes.
The source went on to say that the operation began in Dallas, Texas, but changed to smaller airports in order to avoid attention.
“Our office has received no information from the Biden Administration informing us of a mass transportation of migrants to Tennessee,” Tennessee Senator Marsha Blackburn said in a statement. “It is absolutely unacceptable if the Biden Administration is facilitating a mass migration without any input or oversight from Tennesseans and the affected communities.”
On Tuesday, Sen. Blackburn also questioned the cost to taxpayers to transport illegal immigrants throughout the U.S.
“Taxpayers are footing the bill for illegal entrants to be flown to their requested location,” she tweeted. “Mr. President, how much is the tab?”
“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,” Sen. Bill Hagerty, R-TN, said in a statement to Fox News. “A new reality is happening in our country—every town is now a border town.”
Blackburn once again took to Twitter to condemn the Biden administration’s handling of the border crisis, this time alleging, “President Biden and his administration are complicit in the trafficking of illegal immigrants.
Earlier this year, Tennessee Gov. Bill Lee declined a Biden administration request to house illegal immigrant children in the state.
When Fox News’s Peter Doocy asked Biden’s Press Secretary Jen Psaki about the reports of illegal immigrants being transported to the state despite Gov. Lee’s decision, Psaki said, “Well, as we have been very clear about, our objective is to unite these unaccompanied children under the age of 18 with families, with sponsors families. So children who are traveling through, who have been traveling through Tennessee, they are simply on their way to unite with relatives or sponsors, to meet sponsors in state, or just traveling through Tennessee until they reach another destination.”
Sen. Blackburn responded to Psaki’s remarks on Twitter, writing, “@PressSec, your answer is misleading at best. [US Department of Health and Human Services] confirmed in April that they’ve been housing unaccompanied minors in Chattanooga, not just delivering them to relatives.”
“The Admin is not simply trafficking kids through Tennessee, they are also housing them in our state.”
Earlier this month, Gov. Lee led nearly 20 other GOP governors in calling on the Biden administration to take immediate action on the border crisis that is “spilling into ALL of our states.”
“The crisis at our border is too big to ignore, and it’s spilling into ALL of our states,” Lee tweeted. “I have led a joint letter with fellow Republican governors urging the Biden Administration to take immediate action at America’s southern border.”
Immigration advocates pushed back against the lawmakers raising the alarm about illegal immigrants being transported to Tennessee, including Lisa Sherman-Nikolaus, executive director of the Tennessee Immigrant and Refugee Rights Coalition, who called on the officials to “come together” to “protect vulnerable children.”
“We need to protect vulnerable children. Period,” Sherman-Nikolaus said in a statement, according to the Chattanooga Times Free Press. “It is the right thing to do, and our laws require nothing less. We have the capacity, resources, and can do anything we decide we want to do, including protecting vulnerable children and families in need. It’s time to come together as a nation to reject cruelty and center the well-being of children and families.”