WHITE PLAINS, N.Y. - They've been dubbed "mystery flights" — jets landing at the Westchester County Airport unloading passengers onto the tarmac.
"What's the secrecy? Tell us. That's all we are asking," said Republican candidate for governor Rob Astorino, a former Westchester County executive who shot video at the airport this week.
Astorino claimed the people exiting the jet are undocumented immigrants being secretly flown in by the feds without anyone knowing.
But in a statement, the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, which is conducting the flights, said they are legal and are part of the program reuniting unaccompanied children and their parents.
"Over the last week, unaccompanied children passed through the Westchester airport en route to their final destination to be unified with their parents or vetted sponsor," the Administration for Children and Families, part of HHS, said in the statement.
Port Chester community advocate Luis Yumbla said these flights are no mystery. In fact, the planes have been landing in Westchester since April to reunite the children with their parents, who've been in the U.S. for decades.
"Many of them, almost 100% who arrived lately, came legally," Yumbla said. "They go to the port of entry, surrender to local officials of immigration and customs."
Westchester County Executive George Latimer said his administration was never made aware of these flights but has since asked for origination and destination of the people involved, their vaccination status, age, and when this will end.
U.S. Department of Health and Human Services full statement
"It is our legal responsibility to safely care for unaccompanied children until they can be swiftly unified with a parent or a vetted sponsor. As part of the unification process, our Office of Refugee Resettlement facilitates travel for the children in its custody to their family or sponsors across the country. Over the last week, unaccompanied children passed through the Westchester airport en route to their final destination to be unified with their parents or vetted sponsor." —Office of Communications, HHS Administration for Children and Families