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If you have never tried to get information from Homeland Security or the Health and Human Services Department of the federal government, count yourself lucky.

We are still stuck trying to get more information on what we already know. And here is what we KNOW…

On April 22, a World Atlantic flight (WL317) took off from Long Beach, California and landed in Des Moines. Here is how we know that:

That same airplane (N806WA) left Des Moines on April 22 and landed in Atlanta, Georgia.

That is not in dispute. Although, according to We Are Iowa News, the airport said no such flight arrived in Des Moines on April 22. From the article:

“Third, the Des Moines International Airport told Local 5 no such flight arrived in Des Moines on April 22. Kevin Foley, executive director of Des Moines International, said ICE notifies them if they are transferring anyone through a terminal.”

I talked with Daniel Drake, the reporter from the Long Beach Local News about the story. He told me there is limited information because this is a federally run operation.

But he maintains that close to 100 migrant children boarded a flight that took off from Long Beach at 4:35 p.m. and landed in Des Moines at 9:28 p.m.

He added that airport officials confirmed these children boarding the flight were migrant children being transported and several of the accompanying agents were with ICE.

Drake told me that based on research Long Beach Local News did, HHS and ICE are “even more covert” in Iowa than in Los Angeles. He said the vast majority of refugees and migrants end up at the Polk County Jail, but there is information indicating a possible renegotiation of contract with the county jail system and ICE which could result in a private, for-profit company taking over the facilitation of detention.

Local government in Long Beach is also denying any foreknowledge of the situation just as Iowa officials are.

The contact I was working with from ICE is based out of St. Paul and had zero involvement. They put me in touch with someone from the ICE Office of Public Affairs, but an email to that person has gone unanswered.

ICE does not have the legal authority to detain unaccompanied kids.

The Iowa Standard was encouraged to contact the Department of Health and Human Services’ Office of Refugee Resettlement, which we did.

And here is what we received:

“Thank you for reaching out. The Office of Refugee Resettlement is unable to confirm what was witnessed. A normal part of the program’s operations is the transport of children to their sponsors, but we cannot confirm.”

After I sent a follow-up email, I received more information — but nothing specific. The Biden-Harris Administration, as it was referred to in the email, is committed to implementing “an immigration system that is humane, orderly and lawful.”

The goal of the administration is to move unaccompanied minors out of DHS custody and into HHS facilities and place them with “vetted family members or sponsors” as quickly and safely as possible.

As of May 2, there are 22,264 unaccompanied children in HHS care.

The Iowa Standard is continuing efforts to get more information and will hopefully soon be working with a major media outlet to get to the bottom of this.

In the meantime, we continue to try to contact ICE, the Des Moines Airport and HHS in an effort to get more information. World Atlantic Airlines has been impossible to reach as we attempt to talk with them about the flight.

***The Iowa Standard is an independent media voice. We rely on grassroots financial supporters to exist. If you appreciate what we do, please consider a one-time sign of support or becoming a monthly supporter (even just $5/month would go a long way in sustaining us!) We also offer advertising options for advocacy groups, events and businesses! If you’ve ever used the phrase “Fake News Media” — this is YOUR chance to do something about it! You can also support us on PayPal at [email protected] or Venmo at Iowa-Standard-2018 or through the mail at:
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Author: Jacob Hall