The Tennessee Star discovered that unaccompanied migrant children were flown May 11 on a commercial flight – three days before flights documented by initial breaking news. Previous reports discovered that the unaccompanied migrant children were flown into a private airport on May 14 – Chattanooga’s Wilson Air Center. It is unclear how many other flights carrying migrant children came into Tennessee prior to these documented incidents on May 11 and 14.
A source who was on the flight informed The Star that they encountered a man chaperoning 10 to 15 migrant children between the ages of 10 and 14 onto an American Airlines flight. The chaperone was described as a bilingual Hispanic male wearing street clothes, speaking fluent Spanish to the children and English to the source – he’d chatted with our source for around 45 minutes at a ticket counter. The chaperone informed our source that he was “escorting all these young men to Chattanooga for a shelter.” The group of migrant children reportedly had new-looking cell phones, clothes, shoes, and backpacks. The source added that some of the children were playing games or talking in Spanish on their phones.
The group of migrant children and their chaperone reportedly boarded the plane first and went to the back of the plane. They flew from Dallas Fort Worth Airport to Chattanooga Metropolitan Airport, also known as Lovell Field on American Airlines flight number 3901. They arrived around 1 a.m. EDT on May 12.
The Star inquired with American Airlines about their knowledge of the incident, and their involvement with the Biden Administration in transporting unaccompanied migrant children. They didn’t respond by press time.
The source further informed The Star that they’d attempted to get a rental car days in advance of their flight, to no avail. When the source arrived at the Chattanooga Metropolitan Airport, they saw that two rental car counters were still open: Avis and Alamo. The group of migrant children and their chaperone reportedly rented cars at both counters – but when the source attempted to get a car from either counters, the workers told the source that they weren’t renting cars that late.
According to the Chattanooga Metropolitan Airport’s rental car service listings on their website, neither Avis or Alamo stay open until 1 a.m: Avis closes at 5 p.m. and Alamo closes at 11:30 p.m. None of the rental car companies at Chattanooga Metropolitan Airport stay open past midnight.
The Star inquired with both Avis and Alamo about this incident. We asked about their involvement with the Biden Administration in arranging the transportation. Only Avis responded by press time. Avis spokespersons told The Star that we would have to “refer any questions to federal officials.”
U.S. Department of Defense (DOD) spokesperson Chris Mitchell told The Star that, contrary to prior reports, the DOD isn’t involved in transporting the migrant children. Instead, Mitchell said the DOD has offered space at two of their bases in Texas.
“All of the unaccompanied minor operations are being headed by the Department of Health and Human Services. The extent of our involvement is providing facilities at Lackland Air Force Base and Fort Bliss,” said Mitchell. “There is no DOD involvement beyond Fort Bliss and Lackland Air Force Base.”
Mitchell referred The Star to the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS); he said that they were in charge of transporting the unaccompanied migrant children.
HHS spokespersons didn’t respond to The Star by press time.
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