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Questions remain over bus carrying migrant children into Kentucky

Updated: May. 28, 2021 at 11:54 AM EDT
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WILLIAMSBURG, Ky. (WKYT) - A busload of people which reportedly included migrant children flown into Knoxville overnight crossed into southern Kentucky early this morning.

The fate of children found at the U.S.-Mexico border with no parents or adult family members sparked humanitarian concerns about their treatment and the urgency to reunite them with families.

WKYT and our sister station WVLT learned the children arrived on a plane at Knoxville’s McGhee Tyson Airport at 11:19 p.m. Thursday.

Flight records show the plane originated in Long Beach, California, where hundreds of children found at the border are temporarily being held in a convention center. The children were moved to the site after outcry over reports about the conditions they were being held in at the border, including being put in cages.

After the plane landed in Knoxville, the children on board were loaded onto two buses. WVLT followed one of the buses up I-75 as it crossed into Whitley County in southern Kentucky. The other bus headed south from Knoxville.

When contacted by phone, a Tennessee-based charter bus company hung up when asked questions about why its buses were being used.

It’s not clear exactly where the bus that passed into Kentucky was headed.

WKYT reached out to Gov. Andy Beshear’s office this morning to see if they had any information. After checking with the offices of Rep. Hal Rogers and Rep. Andy Barr, both offices said they were checking on the situation.

Earlier this month, 20 Republican governors urged the Biden administration to take further action along the border over a surge in recent crossings. In March, 18,890 were unaccompanied minors which was the largest monthly number in history.

The plane of migrant children isn’t the first one to arrive in Tennessee this month. When the several plane loads of migrant children arrived in Chattanooga earlier this month, lawmakers in Tennessee started demanding answers.

Tennessee Gov. Bill Lee declined the Biden Administration’s request to “house unaccompanied minors and called on the administration to secure the border.” “When we demand answers, they cut off transparency and emboldened one of the worst human trafficking crises we’ve seen at our border in the last 20 years. Tennesseans deserve to know who is coming into our state,” Gov. Lee said in a Tweet.

Tennessee Sen. Marsha Blackburn said she and Representative Chuck Fleischmann 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.”

The temporary shelter in California is operated and funded by the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services’ Office of Refugee Resettlement.

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