Jun 11, 2021
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.News Iowa Tennessee Migrants Border Crisis Chuck Grassley Border Health and Human Services Homeland Security ICE
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Tags: states states iowa tennessee department of homeland security immigration and customs enforcement news iowa tennessee migrants border crisis chuck grassley border health and human services homeland security ice hhs’s office office the federal government congressional hearing unaccompanied migrant to determine whether biden administration human trafficking homeland security migrant children unaccompanied to their states law enforcement chuck grassley regarding taking place
Travel Experts Say Major Airlines Forced To Cancel Flights Were Unprepared For Issues Like Pilot Shortage
NEW YORK (CBSNewYork) — As millions more take to the skies, some major airlines are having trouble keeping up with the surge.
Reporter Alice Gainer has more on the impact on travelers.
“It went from just us trying to enjoy ourselves to how are we going to get home?” Brooklyn’s Oceola Woodruff said.
FLASHBACK: American Airlines Extends Suspension Of Alcohol On Flights Due To Unruly Passengers
Woodruff was on a catamaran in Mexico on Saturday when she received a message from American Airlines about her flight the next day. It was cancelled without explanation.
The airline automatically rebooked her for a flight Tuesday, two days after her original flight home.
“I have work responsibilities and I needed to be back,” Woodruff said.
Chantell Beaumont was with Woodruff and a large group of people, all in the same boat, literally and figuratively, trying to book new flights back on different airlines.
“We waited like almost two hours on hold with American Airlines,” Beaumont said.
“One of my girlfriends, her flight was almost $900. It’s an additional expense that I didn’t plan for,” Woodruff added.
READ MORE: United Airlines’ COVID Vaccine Policy Has Other Companies Considering
American Airlines increased flights from 2,200 a day during the pandemic to about 5,800 this month. It had major weather disruptions in nine of the first 15 days in June, and announced it will cancel 50 to 80 flights a day through at least mid-July as it tries to “build in additional resilience and certainty” to its flight schedule.
“The airlines were caught with their pants down. They scheduled too many flights, and they didn’t have enough people ready to operate the flights,” travel industry analyst Henry Harteveldt said.
Some of its pilots were still in post-furlough re-training.
“You didn’t have enough pilots to fly the airplanes. Pretty simple,” said Capt. Dennis Tajer, spokesperson for the Allied Pilots Association.
United CEO Scott Kirby warned there could be a pilot shortage in the U.S.
“The military produces far fewer pilots today than they did, you know, in the Vietnam and Cold War era. And, it’s hard to become a pilot, a commercial airline pilot, on your own if you’re not going through the military,” Kirby said.
FLASHBACK: Southwest Airlines Attendant Loses 2 Teeth, Left Bloodied In Mid-Flight Attack By Passenger: ‘She Just Knocked Her Out’
Southwest was also hit with delays and cancellations due to weather and a three-day series of computer issues.
The Transportation Security Administration struggled to have enough screeners.
“You have an airport problem,” CBS News travel editor Peter Greenberg said.
Greenberg offered a tip to avoid large crowds if you’re planning to book something soon.
“Think of an alternate airport. Think of Islip instead of LaGuardia. Think of Providence instead of Boston. Think of Milwaukee instead of Chicago,” Greenberg said.
He also said to check in right away when you get to the airport. Just because you booked a flight doesn’t mean you’re getting on the plane, especially if it’s overbooked.
In a statement, American Airlines said it will provide a full refund to customers who rebook their flight more than four hours from their original departure time.