Officials: Feds not alerting Tennessee about migrant kids


The cabin of an airplane. (Photo by Scott Olson/Getty Images)

NASHVILLE, Tenn. — Officials with Gov. Bill Lee’s administration say the federal government will not alert Tennessee on when unaccompanied migrant children are brought to the state to be placed with sponsors.

Brandon Gibson, Lee’s chief operating officer, told lawmakers Tuesday that the federal Department of Health and Human Services says that privacy concerns prevent the agency from disclosing such information.

Gibson gave her remarks on Tuesday before a legislative panel made up of entirely of GOP members. The group is tasked with investigating refugee and immigration settlement in Tennessee after a local television station aired footage of children arriving at a Chattanooga airport and boarding buses in the middle of the night.

It’s believed that more than 1,111 unaccompanied minors have been released to Tennessee sponsors as of June 14.

A plane believed to be carrying unaccompanied migrant children in the custody of the U.S. government landed at McGhee Tyson Airport in Knoxville in late May.

Video captured by WATE 6 shows some children boarding two charter buses from Malone Busing, a company based in Cleveland, Tennessee. Other children were met by unidentified adults. A few adults were seen receiving a packet before leaving the airport on their own accord with at least one child, sometimes more. 

An adult at the airport told our crew that they were from Chattanooga. 

Officials with the White House, the Office of Refugee Resettlement, city leaders in Long Beach, California, and their Joint Information Center, as well as McGhee Tyson Airport either declined knowing the purpose of the flight or its passengers, or did not respond to questions at the time.

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