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Trust Index: Are migrants flying into Jacksonville in the middle of the night?

Congressman John Rutherford said he believes around 7,000 have come through Jacksonville International Airport over the past few months.

JACKSONVILLE, Fla. – The News4Jax I-TEAM is looking into claims that the U.S. government is flying immigrant adults and children into Jacksonville under the cover of darkness as they deal with an influx of people crossing the southern border.

Congressman John Rutherford said he believes around 7,000 have come through Jacksonville International Airport over the past few months.

Now, the I-TEAM is putting these claims through the Trust Index.

For weeks, News4Jax has heard rumors of immigrants coming into Jacksonville. We’ve been investigating and now the Biden Administration confirms that it is happening as they deal with the crisis at the border.

immigrants from South and Central America continue to surge across the U.S.-Mexico border and photos shared with News4Jax show a chartered 737 coming from Texas and landing late Saturday night in Jacksonville.

An Avelo Airline charter plane from Houston, TX drops off migrants in Jacksonville, FL before flying to White Plains, NY to unload remaining migrants. (Courtesy David Rosenblum)

The photos show airport police at the airport to help escort the migrants off the plane and onto a bus.

Local photographer David Rosenblum captured the photos and some of his pictures were used in an article in the New York Post, which details the U.S. government moving immigrants from the southern border to shelters across the U.S.

Some appear to be children.

“We haven’t received any answers that the administration, the Biden administration is keeping Congress in the dark on this. I think they know that Americans will be outraged,” Rep. Michael Waltz said.

Republican Waltz is upset saying this isn’t the way to deal with the border crisis.

“I think you have to reverse some of the policies that this administration has put in place, or some that they eliminated just because they were done by the Trump Administration, they worked,” Waltz said. “One is you have to reduce the incentives right now, everybody in South Central America knows if they can just get a toe into the United States, they’ll be processed, there’ll be taken care of sent into the interior and given a court date, 357 years from now.”

Saturday’s flight was on Avelo Airlines which doesn’t typically fly into JAX. Another flight came in from Houston then headed Westchester County, New York.

But history shows the airline has been flying in and out of Jacksonville International since at least Aug. 13 from places like Burbank and Ontario in California as well as Houston, El Paso, Austin and McAllen in Texas.

The I-TEAM discovered records showing a total of 21 Avelo flights have landed in Jacksonville in the past three months.

“Why is the administration flying thousands of migrants from the border to Florida and New York in the middle of the night?” Fox News reporter Peter Doocy asked during a Tuesday White House press conference.

“Well, I’m not sure that’s in the middle of the night. But let me tell you what’s happening here,” White House Press Secretary Jen Psaki responded. “We are talking about early flights earlier than you might like to take a flight. It is our legal responsibility to safely care for unaccompanied children until they swiftly, can be swiftly unified with a parent or a vetted sponsor.”

Psaki said the Office of Refugee Resettlement coordinates travel for children in American custody but Rutherford said he believes it’s been done under a veil of secrecy.

“We saw all of those people in Del Rio, living under the bridge, 1000s of them, well, guess what, they didn’t just disappear from Del Rio. They’re now in our communities out here, all over the interior of the country,” Rutherford said.

Rutherford said he plans to draft a bill that would require the government to disclose details about the migrants and where they’re heading. Right now it’s not clear.

“The greatest concern that I have is that they’re moving these folks through and into our, our local communities, and not notifying us the lack of transparency is horrible,” Rutherford said.

The Biden administration said it plans to reinstate a Trump-era border policy next month to make asylum-seekers wait in Mexico for hearings in U.S. immigration court, complying with a judge’s order. It hinges on the approval of the Mexican government, which has raised concerns that U.S. officials are working to address

RELATED: US plans to reinstate ‘Remain in Mexico’ policy next month

Florida Senator Marco Rubio sent News4Jax a statement, saying:

“Instead of securing our borders and protecting Americans, President Biden continues to bring illegal migrants into the United States, many of which do not have documentation, and could pose threats. The Biden policies strain local communities and make it even harder to enforce common sense laws in the future.”

JAX officials had no comment pointing out it’s a public use airport and this is a federal operation.

While News4Jax doesn’t know an exact number of how many, we’ve confirmed the claims that immigrants are being brought into Jacksonville during the night are true.

It's True

We’ve reviewed information surrounding this topic and confirmed that It’s True.

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About the Author:

Lifetime Jacksonville resident anchors the 8 and 9 a.m. weekday newscasts and is part of the News4Jax I-Team.