Sep. 14, 2022

HARRISBURG – The House Government Oversight Committee, chaired by Rep. Ryan Mackenzie (R-Berks/Lehigh), voted today to accept a referral from Speaker of the House Bryan Cutler (R-Lancaster) and House Majority Leader Kerry Benninghoff (R-Centre/Mifflin) to investigate reports of “ghost” flights landing at airports in Pennsylvania that may have contained children who entered the country illegally. The committee also voted to affirm its ability to issue subpoenas over the course of the investigation. 

According to Cutler and Benninghoff, media accounts and the governor’s office have expressed that the unidentified individuals arriving on these flights were placed onto chartered buses and driven to unknown destinations outside of the Commonwealth. No information has been made public regarding the individuals on these flights, nor has any state agency provided any details on the flights in any official capacity.

“The people of Pennsylvania deserve answers as to what the executive agencies of this Commonwealth knew about these flights and why information was not made public prior to or after the arrival of these flights,” the House leaders wrote in the referral letter. “Transparency regarding government is of paramount concern to this body to ensure the safety and well-being of the citizens of Pennsylvania, as well as the safety and well-being of those unidentified individuals.”

Under Pennsylvania House of Representatives rules, House leaders can refer investigations to the House Government Oversight Committee. The committee is comprised of five Republicans and four Democrats and has subpoena power to compel documents and witnesses.

“We intend to exercise the important role of the House Government Oversight Committee by investigating the flights into the Commonwealth and work to ensure the welfare of the children who may have been involved. We will also guard against revealing the personal or identifying information of any minors,” said Mackenzie. “Our goal is to be transparent about whether state resources, agencies, employees, or non-governmental agencies in Pennsylvania were involved in the transportation, care, processing, or relocation of these individuals. 

“While we do not believe the welfare of these children is currently in jeopardy, there have been reports of children in similar programs in other states going missing or falling victim to exploitative working conditions due to a lack of transparency and oversight. Through this investigation, we hope to ensure that has not and does not happen in Pennsylvania,” Mackenzie added. 

Learn more about those cases here.

A copy of the referral letter is attached here 

Representative Ryan Mackenzie
134th Legislative District
Pennsylvania House of Representatives

Media Contact: Andy Briggs
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