United States Representative Dan Meuser and Pennsylvania gubernatorial candidate Lou Barletta are seeking clarification on claims that four planes carrying illegal immigrants arrived at Wilkes-Barre/Scranton International Airport (AVP) in the last two weeks.
The Times Leader reports Meuser, a Republican from Dallas, and Barletta, a former Congressman from Hazleton, wrote letters to federal officials requesting details on where the planes originated, if the immigrants’ backgrounds were checked, and their Covid status.
President of Aviation Technologies James Gallagher confirmed the four planes arrived on December 11, December 17, and two on December 25, with a fifth scheduled to arrive December 30 at 5 p.m. He explained that at least two flights were rerouted from other airports to AVP. He also said his organization and AVP are both federally funded and required to accept the flights. Gallagher claimed, “We are just doing our job. We have no way of knowing details about the passengers — where they came from or where they were taken.”
“We don’t know their status. It seems that all of the vetting should take place at the border, but it appears that there isn’t much transparency there. More information needs to be provided. There needs to be more control.”
Gallagher did mention that there were about 100-120 people on each flight, and the majority of them appeared to be children or teenagers. Their names were written on duct tape affixed to their bags. Most of them did not speak English, but interpreters traveled with them.
Meuser’s letter was sent to the Secretary of Homeland Security, Alejandro Mayorkas, and acting director of the United States Immigration and Customs Enforcement, Tae Johnson. In it, he voiced his displeasure with news that the federal government had flown illegal immigrants to Scranton.
He wrote, “It is my understanding that a total of 130 immigrants, 118 minors and 12 adults, arrived aboard an iAero charter flight on Friday, December 17, and were subsequently transported on buses from a private hangar. This flight seems to have occurred without airport officials receiving notice or a passenger manifest.”
The letter went on:
“The lack of communication and transparency surrounding this process is unacceptable. Your agency failed to notify me or any other local officials of these activities, leaving us unable to answer the concerns of constituents in the communities we represent. Pennsylvanians deserve to know about these decisions affecting their community.”
Meuser posed several questions to officials regarding the final destinations of the immigrants, Covid testing, and court dates. He also urged President Biden to “immediately end this irresponsible practice.”
Barletta’s letter went to Pennsylvania Governor Tom Wolf and Attorney General Josh Shapiro, in which he asked similar questions as Meuser. Additionally, Barletta noted that the flights were “in line with the established policy of the Biden administration to transport illegal immigrants from the border to other locations within the country.” In November, it was reported that the Biden administration sent more than 70 flights carrying illegal immigrants to Florida.