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Flight carrying unidentified children lands in Knoxville

A plane carrying unidentified children landed in Knoxville.
A flight carrying unidentified children arrived at a Knoxville airport Thursday night.
Flight...
A flight carrying unidentified children arrived at a Knoxville airport Thursday night. Flight records show the plane originated in Long Beach, California, and landed at McGhee Tyson Airport at the TacAir terminal just after 11:15 p.m. According to reports from CBS affiliate KCAL, hundreds of children found at the border were being held in a convention center in Long Beach, California.(WVLT)
Published: May. 28, 2021 at 12:47 PM EDT|Updated: Jun. 1, 2021 at 5:07 PM EDT
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KNOXVILLE, Tenn. (WVLT) - A flight carrying unidentified children arrived at a Knoxville airport Thursday night.

Flight records show the plane originated in Long Beach, California, and landed at McGhee Tyson Airport at the TacAir terminal just after 11:15 p.m. According to reports from CBS affiliate KCAL, hundreds of children found at the border were being held in a convention center in Long Beach, California.

Flight pattern of plane reportedly carrying migrant children
Flight pattern of plane reportedly carrying migrant children(WVLT)

WVLT captured video of people walking from the plane and loading onto two different busses at TacAir. The video appeared to show primarily pre-teen and teenage children. WVLT News blurred the faces of the individuals to protect the identities of anyone on the plane.

WVLT followed one of the buses along Interstate 75 as it crossed over the Kentucky border. The other bus traveled south on Alcoa Highway.

WVLT has made several phone calls in an attempt to gain more information into the situation.

When contacted by phone, The Malone Bus Company based in Cleveland, Tennessee, hung up when asked questions about why its buses were being used. Later calls to the company were then sent straight to voicemail. The Malone Bus Company was the same company that was hired to transport migrants last week from Chattanooga.

A McGhee Tyson Airport spokesperson said they did not have any information because the plane landed at TacAir, a fixed-based operator that works with private aircraft. WVLT also spoke with airline officials who said policy prevents them from sharing a comment.

Governor Lee’s Press Secretary Casey Black said the governor was not made aware of the flight, nor was anyone on their team.

“We have made numerous requests for information and transparency from the Biden Administration since March they have not responded to those requests. Everything we have learned has come from news reports like yours,” the governor’s office stated.

Many Tennessee lawmakers responded to the event, calling on the Biden administration for more clarity. They drafted a letter to the Department of Homeland Security, the Department of Health and Human Services and the Department of Defense to “figure out what is going on.”

Governor Bill Lee made the following statement in response to earlier reports that unaccompanied migrant children were passing through Tennessee:

“When we demanded answers, they cut off transparency & emboldened one of the worst human trafficking crises we’ve seen at our border in the last 20 years. I commend Senator Hagerty and Senator Blackburn for calling this out. Tennesseans deserve to know who is coming into our state.”

Governor Lee said Tennessee declined, “the Biden Administration’s request to house unaccompanied minors and called on the administration to secure the border and stop scattering children across the country.”

White House Press Secretary Jen Psaki also addressed the reports during a press briefing. She commented on the administration’s goals for the flights.

“Tennessee is a state right in the middle of the country and some kids have to travel through there to get to their destination and we’ve been very clear that our objective is to treat these kids humanely, get them to safe homes especially homes of loved ones and sponsor families,” Psaki said.

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