What is so galling about the continued transport of migrant children through Chattanooga is not the private firms allowing their facilities to be used and not the nonprofit organizations fulfilling their missions to help protect minor children but that the children's continued illegal flow into the country is not only allowed but sanctioned by the president of the United States.
The fact that it has been done under cover of darkness (the most recent instance a flight into Wilson Air Center at the Chattanooga Municipal Airport late last Saturday, according to WRCB-TV)), with tarps shielding movement at a local facility last month, with no notice to state officials, is tacit acknowledgement that what is occurring is wrong, against the law.
Tennessee Gov. Bill Lee, U.S. Sens. Marsha Blackburn and Bill Hagerty, and U.S. Rep. Chuck Fleischmann all have made the Biden administration aware of their dismay at the flagrant flouting of the law. But they can only get in line.
Children have been brought to Nashville, Knoxville and Atlanta, as well as Chattanooga, a source close to the situation, speaking on the condition of anonymity, told Nashville's FOX 17 News this week. The source indicated chains of buses from those cities often transport them to larger cities such as New York, Chicago or Miami.
"There are drop-offs in small towns and big cities all along the routes," the source said. "I don't know if they're going into other processing centers. In some cases, family members are waiting to find these children ... But my understanding in a number of these cases, these kids are fresh across the border ... They have intentionally not shared a lot of information with us. They don't want this to get out."
The source said most of the trips originate in Dallas and that Department of Defense regulations require different buses along the way.
"The bus comes through in the middle of the night," he said. "The kids get on a different bus ... The bus goes another eight or nine, 10 hours; they'll make a couple stops along the way ... Then they'll get on another bus, go another eight or nine hours. So they have chained all of these companies together. They go from one bus company to another bus company to another bus company. It's very sad."
A bus driver, also speaking in anonymity, told the television station she is given scant details about the trips she is to take.
"I myself am kind of in the dark," she said. "... The whole thing is last minute."
The driver said while she has observed some touching reunions of children with family members, "I think that's the exception, not the rule."
A record 19,000 migrant children entered the United States illegally in March. That followed 9,500 in February. The number in April was expected to be lower than that in March, according to administration officials, but the highest number for April in history.
In early May, 22,195 children were in custody of the Office of Refugee Resettlement, under the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services. Whether that number included the number dispersed at the expense of the administration into the interior of the country was not known.
Late last month, Lee told this page that he had declined the Biden administration's request to house migrant children in Tennessee "for a number of reasons," but mainly because the administration could not clarify information state officials sought and because the state was "not equipped to handle them in those facilities" being suggested.
He said the state was not told about the children brought into Chattanooga and hosted by Redemption to the Nations Church in April, and that the whole movement of migrant children — including some being trafficked and others being smuggled in by "coyotes" earning enormous fees — is "incredibly unsafe," places them in "increasing danger" and "has to be stopped."
"They're calling an audible in the middle of a crisis because they don't know what to do," Lee said of the Biden administration. "The answer is to secure the border."
The state has taken refugee children before, and the Tennessee governor indicated the state "can be good-faith partners" again.
The problem, though, not just for this state but for all states, is the Biden administration's unwillingness to control the flow at the Southern border, its hypocrisy about why it wants more illegal immigrants here (for "bought" votes down the road), and its incredible lack of transparency and communication about the movement of minors within states.
That the country's leaders would ever facilitate its laws to be broken, and make children pawns in doing so, would have been unimaginable and unconscionable to those who founded the nation on freedom, liberty and the rule of law.