Federal contractors in newly released video criticized the Biden administration for flying migrants released from the southern border into New York in operations meant to be hidden from the public, with one saying the government was betraying the country.
Jan 27, 2022
The employees vented to a Westchester County, New York, police officer who was on the scene one night last August as planes touched down and migrants were loaded onto buses that dispersed them across the Northeast, according to police body camera footage obtained through a Freedom of Information Act request by Republican gubernatorial candidate Rob Astorino and shared with the New York Post.
Police Sgt. Michael Hamborsky walked around the tarmac looking for information about why a Boeing 737 flew in from Fort Bliss in El Paso, Texas, several hours earlier with 142 people on board who had been released after illegally crossing the southern border. Charter buses operated by the subcontracted company, American Dream, were delayed in arriving.
“You’re on a secure facility here. We really don’t know anything, and we’re in charge of security,” Hamborsky told one of the dozen federal contractors after asking who was on the flight and what the workers were doing.
The workers repeatedly told the police sergeant that they were not allowed to show him their company identification or discuss their work. One worker said the Department of Homeland Security and the Army were overseeing the operation and that the DHS “wants everything on the down-low.”
“I get the whole secrecy and all that s***, but this is even above my f***ing pay grade,” a different contractor told Hamborsky.
Hamborsky asked why.
“You know why. Look who’s in office. That’s why, come on,” the contractor said.
“But what’s the big secret?” Hamborsky asked.
“You know why. Because if this gets out, the government is betraying the American people,” the worker said.
Several media outlets reported last October about frequent flights going from the border into Pennsylvania on chartered planes. Normally, migrants pay for their own transportation or nonprofit organizations cover the costs. The Washington Examiner revealed in November that 70 flights from the border landed in Jacksonville, Florida, around the same period and that local and state officials were not informed about who was on board or why they were arriving.
Another person on-site said the government-funded operation was intentionally carried out at smaller airports to avoid attention.
“You want to try and be as down-low as possible,” the worker said. “A lot of this is just down-low stuff that we don’t tell people because what we don’t want to do is attract attention. We don’t want the media. Like we don’t even know where we’re going when they tell us.”
In the Westchester County video, 12 employees from a private security firm were on board the plane, though it was unclear if the passengers were unaccompanied children, adults, or families.
One charter-bus driver claimed he did not know where he was driving the bus.
“They didn’t tell you where it’s going?” Hamborsky asked.
“They never do,” the driver said.
Several buses later departed separately for Delaware, Maryland, New Jersey, and Virginia.
Under a Trump-era border policy still in effect, known as Title 42, anyone who illegally crossed the border should not be taken into custody but immediately sent back to México. However, Mexican states have refused to accept back families with young children. Last year, the Biden administration also declared it would not return children who arrived without a parent.
But the releases of adults have prompted confusion among the public as to why some adults are returned south of the border and others are not. Some countries, including Cuba and Venezuela, outright refuse to accept back citizens or have caps on the number allowed back. Unable to return the adults to México or their country of origin, the United States has detained or released them.
“Asylum-seekers from countries such as Cuba, Venezuela, or Nicaragua generally cannot be expelled under Title 42 due to México’s refusal to accept them and their home country’s limitations on repatriation flights. As a result, ICE must either detain the individual, or, if they lack the capacity to do so, release them on an alternatives to detention program,” American Immigration Council Policy Counsel Aaron Reichlin-Melnick wrote in an email.
“All reports indicate that the individuals released this way will be subject to strict electronic monitoring and, should they fail to appear in court or report to ICE, will likely be rearrested and sent to detention,” he said.
Read More: Washington Examiner – DHS contractor condemns Biden migrant flights: ‘Betraying the American people’