Hudson Valley human rights activists question secrecy surrounding migrant flights
Human Rights groups across the Hudson Valley are continuing to raise concerns regarding several secretive flights, chartered by the federal government, carrying young migrants into Orange County Airport.
Friday's latest flights were carrying 50 teenagers who were seen boarding unmarked buses with covered windows, according to people at the airport who spoke with News 12.
Federal officials say the teens were separated from their parents while illegally crossing the border and headed to vetted sponsors.
“Undocumented immigrants are especially vulnerable to trafficking because of the lack of adult supervision here, the lack of safety,” said Orange County Human Rights Director Inaudy Gil-Esposito. “So, if they become homeless or if they become runaways, they’re preyed upon.”
Gil-Esposito says the federal government needs to be more transparent about when migrant passengers are coming in and where the children are going for their safety.
The flights are at the center of local controversy in a national conversation about immigration reform.
“We need immigration reform. We need to find ways to fix our immigration system,” said Gil-Esposito.
Aaron Narraph Fernando is a spokesperson for the local activist group, For The Many. He said, "Unaccompanied teenagers need resources — ample food, housing, healthcare — just like anyone else. We need answers and full transparency from the federal government."
Federal contractors told officials on the tarmac that the latest group of teens were headed to Poughkeepsie, Kingston and New York City.
At other times, they said teens were headed to locations throughout the tri-state area. Other than that, local officials say nothing else is known except that more flights are expected to come in.
The Department of Health and Human Services says all of the migrant children are in the care of the Office of Refugee Resettlement while they await immigration proceedings.