The city's chief of staff says the charter buses of migrants coming to Chattanooga are legally seeking asylum.
The following statement may be attributed to Joda Thongnopnua, chief of staff for the City of Chattanooga:
"We are aware that Chattanooga is apparently a stopping point for charter buses sent by the State of Texas to the East Coast carrying migrants following the legal process of asylum. We are coordinating a multi-agency response to ensure these individuals are able to connect with their families and safely arrive at their final destinations. This administration will respond with compassion to vulnerable people fleeing extremely difficult circumstances."
"It’s important to understand that these are migrants who have been screened by the Department of Homeland Security and are legally seeking asylum—which is a protected legal status."
The nationwide immigration controversy hit home Friday with buses of immigrants showing up at at least one hotel in the Chattanooga area.
Friday morning, we saw Chattanooga Police on the scene of the Comfort Inn & Suites hotel in Lookout Valley, right off of Browns Ferry Road.
Chattanooga Police confirm officers were called to the scene to conduct a well-being check.
The front desk clerk at the hotel tells us buses showed up with immigrants on board.
And it’s not the first time.
They tell us bus drivers have been sleeping here while another takes the next shift for the past 3 months. CPD came here after they got a complaint call.
An officer on the scene tells our crew that the busses were taking immigrants to Washington, D.C. and New York, and that they stopped in Chattanooga so the drivers could get some rest.
A viewer sent us a photo of a sign posted in the buses window showing several bar codes:
There are a total of 4 barcodes, with 3 of them labeled "Disembarked Vehicle," "Discharged on Own Accord," and "US Capitol."
These are the same barcodes in the front window as those buses sent by Texas Governor Greg Abbott to other cities. That move angered New York's mayor and caused Washington, D.C.'s mayor to plead to the federal government for help managing the immigrants.
Another set of buses showed up Friday afternoon, attempting to let migrants off. But when the driver saw us, they drove back onto the interstate.
A CPD spokesperson says they aren’t investigating, they just came to make sure everything was ok.
We also reached out to the bus company in Coastal Crew Change. A spokesperson from their Louisiana office told us these busses are coming out of their corporate offices and they have nothing to do with where they’re heading.
This comes one day after a similar situation in Dade County. We reported that Sheriff Ray Cross and deputies arrived at a truck stop in Rising Fawn where bus full of immigrants had stopped.
The Dade County Sheriff's Office says when Cross learned some of the immigrants had planned to get off the bus and walk the rest of the way to Chattanooga -- a distance of 30 miles -- he told the immigrants through a translator that they needed to stay on the bus until they got to their final destination.
According to the Sheriff in Dade County, the bus company that arrived in Chattanooga is the same company that he is trying to keep from stopping in his area.
Check this story later for updates.
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