Hundreds of underage migrants are being secretly flown from Texas to New York for resettlement by the Biden administration, an investigation has learned.
The programme is an effort by the White House to resettle migrants across the state, according to the New York Post, and comes amid the on-going border crisis that has overwhelmed immigration officials this summer.
According to data from the US Customs and Border Protection, 37,805 unaccompanied minors were caught entering the US from Mexico between July and August, some of whom were left abandoned by smugglers known as ‘cyotes’.
The newspaper reported witnessing two planes land at New York’s Westchester County Airport last week, one arriving at 10:49 p.m. on Wednesday and another at 9:52 p.m. on Friday.
Most of the passengers who disembarked appeared to be small children and teens, with a ‘small portion’ appearing to be men in their 20s, the Post said, reporting that local cops were seen standing by as the passengers piled into buses.
Hundreds of underage migrants are being secretly flown from Texas to New York for resettlement by the Biden administration, an investigation has learned. Pictured: A baby is handed over the border fence between the U.S. and Mexico (file photo, 2018)
Some of the passengers were later seen by the newspaper meeting with relatives or sponsors in New Jersey, or being dropped off at a facility in Long Island.
Analysis of online tracking data done by the Post suggests that 21 flights have brought around 2,000 migrants caught after crossing the border from Mexico to the Westchester airport – found outside White Planes – since August 8.
Some of the planes have landed between midnight and 6.30 a.m. – during a voluntary curfew that is currently in place – with two arriving from Houston at 2:13 a.m. and 4:29 a.m. on August 20.
The timing of the arrivals suggests a level of secrecy, and raises questions about how the Biden administration is dealing with the surge of border crossings by unaccompanied minors.
A source told the Post that underage migrants arriving at the airport are typically seen carrying backpacks, and are then taken to locations including The Bronx, Brooklyn, Queens, upstate Newburgh and Bridgeport and Danbury in Connecticut.
On Friday, the newspaper reported that a bus left Westchester airport and quickly went down the Hutchinson River Parkway, which is currently off-limits to commercial vehicles – and crossed the Throgs Neck Bridge.
Two planes are reported to have landed at New York’s Westchester County Airport last week, one arriving at 10:49 p.m. on Wednesday and another at 9:52 p.m. on Friday
According to data from the US Customs and Border Protection, 37,805 unaccompanied minors were caught entering the US from Mexico between July and August, some of whom were left abandoned by smugglers known as ‘cyotes’
How gangs dubbed ‘coyotes’ are smuggling underage immigrants into Mexico
Between July and August, more than 37,000 unaccompanied minors were caught entering the US from Mexico, many of whom were left abandoned by Coyotes – or professional people smugglers.
The history of Coyotes – smugglers who specifically take immigrants across the US-Mexico border – dates back to the late 1800s.
Labour shortages in the south-western and western regions of the country caused by legislation brought in between 1882 and 1917 meant that demand for Mexican workers rose.
The addition of a railway between El Paso, Texas and Mexico in 1884 meant that illegal migrant crossings were largely unregulated, and seen as an acceptable practice.
Back then, ‘Enganchadores’, Spanish for ‘hookers’, would ‘hook’ US employers up with Mexican workers, acting as middle-men, and are an early example of the Coyotes of today.
But as legislation was introduced to restrict migration across the border, demand for professionals who knew how to get into the US grew.
The U.S Immigration Acts of 1917 and 1924, combined with the creation of Border Patrol in 1924, meant that migrants were often forced to cross the Rio Bravo river, increasing demand for Coyotes who could assist.
By 1950, around 1,000 agents were patrolling the border, and so Mexican migrants seeking entry into the country relied on the smugglers to get them across the river, and by the 1980s, virtually everyone crossing the border relied on Coyotes.
Despite its illegality on both sides of the border, the practice continues to this day, with migrants paying Coyotes to guide them across the border amid tight security and increasingly advanced technology deployed by Border Force.
Between 2013 and 2014, the number of unaccompanied children apprehended at the border increased nearly 80 percent, from 38,759 in 2013 to 68,541 in 2014.
With the help of Coyotes, most women and children from Central America cross the Rio Grande and turn themselves into the US Border Patrol – relying on the belief that the US will make a special provision for children.
The US government is currently holding tens of thousands of immigrants in detention centres, with 2018 alone seeing 396,448 people were booked into Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) custody.
At around 12:30 a.m. on Saturday, it arrived at the campus of MercyFirst, a non-profit residential facility in Syosset, Long Island sponsored by the Catholic Sisters of Mercy to provide housing for vulnerable ‘children and adolescents,’ its website says.
According to the site, MercyFirst has a contract with the federal government to supply residential services for ‘immigrant youth.’
Also on Wednesday, two buses were reportedly seen leaving the airport carrying around 100 passengers, driving to the Thomas Edison Service Area off the New Jersey Turnpike in Woodbridge.
The migrants got off the bus at around 12:45 a.m. on Thursday, and were taken away in cars by people who had met them there over the next two hours.
The Post also reported seeing similar occurrence in Jacksonville, Florida, where many of the flights on their way to Westchester reportedly stop off.
The newspaper said it saw a Boeing 737-700 land shortly after 10 p.m. Jacksonville International Airport, with local cops standing guard as around 10 to 15 people wearing matching white baseball caps disembarked onto a bus.
After a two hour journey, the group arrived at the Twin Oaks Academy, a juvenile detention center in the Apalachicola National Forest near Tallahassee.
Florida’s Republican Governor Ron DeSantis expressed outrage at the investigation’s findings, with a spokeswoman telling the Post: ‘If the Biden Administration is so confident that their open-border policy is good for our country, why the secrecy?
‘Why is the Biden Administration refusing to share even the most basic information about illegal alien resettlement in communities throughout our state and the entire country?,’ Christina Pushaw added.
A woman who lives near the Westchester airport told the Post that she had been woken up a number of times over the last month in the early hours of the morning because of the late night activity.
‘I got used to the regular airport noise but these planes or jets sound different. Lower, more bass. And they’re coming in the middle of the night,’ she said.
She reported seeing buses that say ‘out of service’ driving around the airport at unusual hours, that aren’t the usual airport shuttle buses.
Former Westchester County Executive Rob Astorino, a Republican candidate for governor, told the newspaper that citizens concerned about the violation of the voluntary curfew had reported the flights to him.
He said that he was told smaller planes had begun to arrive as early as April, but that the flights weren’t as frequent as in the summer.
‘No one has explained where they’re going and who they are,’ he told the Post.
‘The Biden administration is systematically spreading the southern border crisis to communities all around the country, often shrouded in secrecy and under the cloak of darkness.’
A spokeswoman for Democratic Westchester County Executive George Latimer, meanwhile, said that the situation was ‘nothing new’.
‘This is similar to when HHS, under the Trump administration, housed almost 1 thousand migrant children in Westchester- without the County’s prior knowledge or approval,’ spokeswoman Catherine Cioffi told the Post in a written statement.
‘Then, as opposed to now, there was no outcry by anyone.’
The White House commented that the flights have only been carrying children and teens, while the US Department of Health and Human Services said: ‘It is our legal responsibility to safely care for unaccompanied children until they can be swiftly unified with a parent or a vetted sponsor.’
‘Our Office of Refugee Resettlement facilitates travel for the children in its custody to their family or sponsors across the country,’ HHS spokesman Jorge Silva told the Post.
‘In recent weeks, unaccompanied children passed through the Westchester airport en route to their final destination to be unified with their parents or vetted sponsor.’