Friday, February 18, 2022

'Ghost Flights': The Mystery of the Migrant Kids the Feds Are Spiriting Into the U.S. Interior

After months of delay, the Department of Homeland Security replied late last month to a Congressional demand for information about the number of illegal migrants the department has flown from border towns to communities around the country. In 2021, it said, 71,617 were dropped off in nearly 20 cities including locales as far from the Mexican border as Atlanta, Chicago, New York and Philadelphia.
Immigration experts critical of the Biden administration’s permissive immigration policies believe those numbers are incomplete, especially regarding the most vulnerable migrants, those under 18, whom DHS classifies as "unaccompanied children." The agency says some 40,000 of the total transported are such minors, but that number is only a fraction of the 147,000 "encounters" the agency reports having with unaccompanied migrant children at the southern border between January and October 2021.
Paramount among the questions raised by the transports is what happens to the unaccompanied children once they leave the airport? The major cities DHS lists, the experts say, are probably simply way stations rather than final destinations.
“Everyone wants to know where they’re going, but nobody knows,” said Todd Bensman, a national security fellow at the Center for Immigration Studies, a Washington-based think tank. “Well, somebody knows,” he adds. “The government knows. But they are being as opaque and ‘darkened-windows’ as they can be about the entire matter.”
The lack of information raises a host of questions regarding the health and welfare of the children, and more:
  • What security checks are being performed -- and background checks to ensure these minors are going to safe homes? How can checks be conducted on family members in the U.S. illegally who wind up taking custody of the children (a problem highlighted in a 2019 study)? 
  • What processes are in place to ensure that these children have enough to eat, are receiving any necessary medical care, or are enrolled in school?
  • What traumas or crimes have they suffered along the way, at the hands of human traffickers, for example, and how are the cases being handled? (Through a public records request, Judicial Watch last year obtained a list of 33 incidents of alleged sexual abuse in a one-month period in 2021.)
  • What pandemic precautions have been taken, beyond masks seen in some furtively taken images of the transportees, by an administration that professes to be aggressively dedicated to eradicating COVID-19? (Illegal immigrants dispersed on commercial flights in 2021 were not tested for covid, and agencies did not follow preventive procedures, according to preliminary findings of a DHS Inspector General's report reviewed by RealClearInvestigations.)
  • Who is responsible for making sure the migrants, children in particular, check in with the government and show up for court immigration hearings?
The difficulty of getting answers from the Biden administration is frustrating many state and local officials who say that tracking the thousands of illegal immigrants apparently melting into their communities is a maddening endeavor.
Department of Justice
“The Biden administration is running a clandestine, covert, middle-of-the-night, special ops mission using the same tradecraft the military does in operations against foreign enemies,” said Larry Keefe, a senior policy adviser to Florida Republican Gov. Ron DeSantis. “We don’t know what’s going on because the states are not designed to mount intelligence-gathering operations against our own government.”
The situation is complicated by the layers of groups involved. After a gumbo of federal agencies – CBP, DHS, DHHS, ICE, ORR – the government largely relies on nonprofit contractors to handle unaccompanied minors. While those groups present a rosy picture on their websites, it is unclear how they can handle what has proved a massive increase.
In 2021, DHS shelters near the border and further inland took in 122,000 unaccompanied children, according to its figures, which shattered the previous record 69,000 in 2019. The unaccompanied children are but a portion of the illegal immigrants who flooded across the southern border in 2021. For the fiscal year ending last October, U.S. Customs and Border Protection reported 1.6 million "encounters" -- an all-time record and four times the figure the previous year. Although the number of encounters does not equal the number of people who crossed, given that some are repeat offenders, the actual figures are even higher, because CBP does not release the number of "got-aways" it records.
Read the rest from James Varney, RealClearInvestigations HERE

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