Over 60 migrant children took a flight out of Long Beach airport in late May and are currently unaccounted for by the public.
In the late afternoon of Friday, May 28, two charter buses arrived at LGB Airport carrying over 60 migrant children. This is in conjunction with a similar flight by the same aircraft which carried close to 100 migrant children to Des Moines, Iowa, late last April from LGB Airport. The children aboard Friday’s flight were then escorted onto a flight bound for McGhee Tyson Airport in Knoxville Tennessee. A local news outlet of east Tennessee, WATE 6, captured the flight landing followed by the separation of these children onto several charter buses reportedly destined to several neighboring states.
Immediately following the incident, our team reached out to Long Beach City officials to find out whether these children were coming from the facility operating within the Long Beach Convention Center. Our journalists were redirected to the new public information officer for the Health and Human Services (HHS) facility here in Long Beach, David Kosub. When prompted with questions regarding the movement of these children, Kosub refused to comment, stating that such transparency would pose a security risk for their operations.
As such, the children who had boarded last Friday’s flight, to then be distributed across further state lines, are unaccounted for in terms of public knowledge. With the present lack of information and transparency by the HHS, Office of Refugee Resettlement (ORR), and Immigration and Customs Enforcement (I.C.E.), there is a clear lack of checks and balances surrounding the detention of migrant children in Customs and Border Protection (CBP), I.C.E., and HHS custodies.
When assessing the actions taken by the HHS, ORR, and any of the multiple federal agencies responsible for these children, it becomes clear that the survival of their operations are dependent on their secrecy. The explicit covertness of operations such as last Friday’s prompt several concerns from community members. Such concerns include the realistic numbers of children exiting federal custody and entering the care of sponsors, bringing into question the looming discrepancies in reporting by the federal bodies organizing the movement and care of these children.
Additionally, the welfare and safety of the children in the care of the HHS and ORR is a prominent worry for many. This may be due to the overwhelming number of sexual abuse allegations against unaccompanied minors in HHS custody that have been reported over the years. According to documentation released by Democratic Rep. Ted Deutch of Florida, 5,859 allegations of sexual abuse have been reported just between 2015 and 2018. Like any reporting system for abuse and assault, it is limited to those who come forward.
The City of Long Beach reports that over 600 children at the local facility have been unified with sponsors. We are actively pursuing further information related to the interstate transportation of migrant children through Long Beach. As this is ongoing until August, LBLN is dedicated to continuing to update the information on the issue as it becomes available.