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No, the Biden administration is not organizing ‘ghost flights’ of migrant children : NPR



The variety of migrant youngsters crossing the southern border with out their mother and father reached a file excessive final 12 months — and the backlash remains to be rising.

President Biden’s critics accuse his administration of organizing “secret” migrant flights to airports throughout the nation.

However these critics get some key info flawed.

“It isn’t secret, and it isn’t new,” stated Jennifer Nagda, coverage director with the Younger Middle for Immigrant Kids’s Rights, a non-profit that works intently with unaccompanied youngsters.

When youngsters and youngsters from Central America cross the border alone, the federal authorities is required by legislation to take care of them till they’re reunited with a guardian, or one other sponsor, within the U.S. To do this, officers say they often fly these youngsters on industrial or constitution planes to achieve these adults, or a community of particular shelters across the nation.

It’s possible you’ll not have heard a lot about these flights — until you have been studying conservative media and watching Fox Information, the place these so-called “ghost flights” stuffed with “underage migrants” have been getting loads of consideration.

Conservative media retailers devoted a number of segments to recently-released video footage of 1 constitution flight that landed in August in a suburb of New York Metropolis. The grainy footage reveals what seem like youngsters climbing off the aircraft and onto the tarmac.

It was recorded on a body-worn digital camera by an area police officer, who tries to speak with a few of the federal contractors on the airport. “What we do not wish to do is entice consideration,” one of many contractors explains. “If this will get out,” one other contractor tells the officer, “the federal government is betraying the American folks.”

The video was launched by Rob Astorino, a Republican and former Westchester county govt who’s operating for governor in New York.

“All of this was on the hush hush and on the down low and in the midst of the evening, so no person would discover out,” Astorino stated in an interview. “In order that clearly raised much more questions on why they have been hiding one thing like this.”

However federal officers say the solutions are easy — and that these flights occurred precisely the identical approach in the course of the Trump administration.

“That is fully in line with the legislation and our duties,” stated Jorge Silva, a deputy assistant secretary for public affairs at U.S. Well being and Human Companies, in a press release. “Our obligation is to take care of unaccompanied youngsters whereas they’re on our watch, and that features connecting them to vetted sponsors.”

Federal officers say these flights occur in any respect hours of day and evening, and that they do not launch particulars concerning the passengers on function to guard their privateness. Even the contractor working the constitution flights hasn’t modified because the Trump administration, they notice.

The variety of unaccompanied youngsters crossing the border has surged earlier than, beneath former Presidents Obama and Trump. However the quantity soared even greater in 2021, topping 100,000 in a 12 months for the primary time.

Immigrant advocates say the quantity of fear-mongering about unaccompanied youngsters is rising, too.

“That is actually simply divorced from actuality and from info,” stated Nagda. The remedy of unaccompanied migrant youngsters from Central America is ruled by a federal legislation generally known as the William Wilberforce Trafficking Victims Safety Reauthorization Act, which handed with sturdy bipartisan assist and was signed into legislation by George W. Bush in 2008.

“That is a part of a course of established beneath a bipartisan legislation meant to deal with youngsters just a bit bit extra like the youngsters that they’re,” she stated.

However none of that has silenced President Biden’s critics.

“These are midnight flights. No notification to the state or anyone,” stated Florida Governor Ron DeSantis at a press convention in November, shortly after a migrant who allegedly pretended to be a minor to get into the U.S. was accused of homicide in Jacksonville.

“This isn’t the best way you retain folks secure,” stated DeSantis, a Republican who is claimed to be contemplating a run for president. “It is reckless and it is flawed.”

Florida accuses the Biden administration of collaborating in a “human trafficking scheme.” DeSantis’s allies within the legislature are pushing a invoice that might punish air carriers who transport unaccompanied youngsters into the state.

That state has additionally moved to cease licensing shelters that take care of migrant youngsters, until the federal authorities offers the state extra discover and management over this system. It isn’t clear but if shelters in Florida can preserve going with out state licenses, or if DeSantis will push to close them down altogether.

“It is actually unconscionable to me that children could be used as pawns in a political struggle,” stated Jennifer Nagda.

There are not any “ghost flights,” she says. However the pushback in opposition to them is actual. And the hurt to migrant youngsters might be, too.

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