A Secret Finally Revealed: Americans Can Know the U.S. Cities Receiving Hundreds of Thousands of Immigrants Flying from Abroad

A House committee data release confirms a CIS report, and offers additional information

By Todd Bensman on May 1, 2024

Photo by Todd Bensman.

AUSTIN, Texas — The Big Secret is finally vanquished.

Americans can now know the locations of 45 U.S. cities whose domestic airports have received flights carrying hundreds of thousands of inadmissible aliens the Biden administration authorized to fly over the border into the interior of the country but then determinedly fought to shield from public knowledge.

Those 45 cities where the receiving international airports are finally came to official light via the House Homeland Security Committee (albeit in regions the Center for Immigration Studies already identified following a year-long Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) request for the data). Last year, the committee demanded the same data from DHS in a letter similar to the Center’s contested FOIA request and which, after administration stonewalling, evolved into a subpoena. The committee released the information to Fox News on Tuesday.

The administration’s tightly guarded city airport locations confirm a Center for Immigration Studies report published on April 1, 2024, which disclosed that Florida airports by far led all other states in flight landings of 326,000 immigrants through March, distantly followed in still significant numbers by Texas, New York, and California. (See “The Florida Gateway: Data Shows Most Migrant Flights Landing in Gov. DeSantis’s Sunshine State”.) The new data also confirms prior Center reports that about 43 U.S. airports were taking in immigrants from international flights. (See “New Records Show Biden DHS Has Approved Hundreds of Thousands of Migrants for Secretive Foreign Flights Directly into U.S. Airports”.)

But the information release is still useful in other ways.

For starters, the data for the first time delivers the granularity of all 45 cities that have received immigrants under the Biden flights program. That information serves an important public interest purpose, which is that state and local elected leaders of cities and states that are struggling to absorb hundreds of thousands of needy incoming foreign nationals might finally be able to plan and budget for their care, or possibly be able to petition Washington to slow or stop the flights.

Several big city mayors have bitterly blamed all their troubles on Republican Texas Gov. Greg Abbott for offering free bus rides from Texas. But whereas New York City’s Mayor Eric Adams has pointed to Abbott as the reason for his immigrant absorption troubles for providing free busing to some 38,000, the mayor now knows the Biden administration authorized nearly 34,000 to fly directly to New York airports from abroad, the Center’s April 1 report showed. That means Adams can now distribute the blame but, more importantly, seek redress from a politically friendly administration in Washington.

No Democratic mayor has yet to mention the flights.

But upon learning from the Center’s April 1 report that his state led the nation in immigrant flights, Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis and his top lieutenants have voiced their displeasure that Biden’s government kept the program hidden from them.

“It is a secret because . . . they don’t tell us anytime somebody comes in,” DeSantis complained during an April 4 press conference when asked about the Center’s report of a few days earlier. “They don’t give us any information on it. They are not coordinating with state government at all. If they throw six people on a commercial flight coming from a foreign country, there’s no acknowledgement at all to state or local authorities. That’s just a fact.”

The Center’s April 1 disclosure that Florida was the nation’s top landing zone prompted Florida Attorney General Ashley Moody to demand an explanation from Biden, who was planning a campaign stop in Tampa, and to beseech reporters covering him to ask the president about the program.

“Attention all Florida media: Do not let Joe Biden leave Tampa today until you have asked him why he has flown the vast majority of aliens within his illegal direct flight program into Florida and why he keeps doing that despite unvetted criminals committing murders and rapes,” Moody posted on X.

No one did.

The numbers reflected in the newly released data are, however, obsolete. They cover only January through August 2023, whereas the administration reports that through March 2024, some 404,000 immigrants mainly from Cuba, Haiti, Nicaragua, and Venezuela have flown into U.S. airports under the program, though it will never say exactly where.

Even so, the breakdown of those eight months of numbers by city is useful in that they clearly indicate to local elected leaders what degree the flights are a source of their staggering integration troubles.

Begun in October 2022 for Venezuelans and expanded in January 2023 to Cubans, Haitians, Nicaraguans, and Colombians, the program approves flight travel authorizations for aspiring illegal border-crossers still in other countries to instead arrange commercial airline passage for themselves over the southern border and then receive temporary but easily renewable “humanitarian parole” from CBP officers at the airport, with immediate eligibility for renewable work permits. The rationale for the program is to “reduce the number of individuals crossing unlawfully” over the southern border — by flying them over it directly into the interior and then releasing them on parole.

The top 15 cities migrants flew into during the eight-month window were:

  • Miami, Fla.: 91,821
  • Ft. Lauderdale, Fla.: 60,461
  • New York City, N.Y.: 14,827
  • Houston, Texas: 7,923
  • Orlando, Fla.: 6,043
  • Los Angeles, Calif.: 3,271
  • Tampa, Fla.: 3,237
  • Dallas, Texas: 2,256
  • San Francisco, Calif.: 2,052
  • Atlanta, Ga.: 1,796
  • Newark, N.J.: 1,498
  • Washington, D.C.: 1,472
  • Chicago, Ill.: 496
  • Las Vegas, Nev.: 483
  • Austin, Texas: 171

The other airports used for the program are located in: Aruba; Baltimore, Md.; Boston; Mass.; Charlotte Amalie, St. Thomas, Virgin Islands; Cincinnati, Ohio; Columbus, Ohio; Charlotte, N.C.; Dublin, Ireland; Denver, Colo.; Detroit, Mich.; Fresno, Calif.; Fort Myers, Fla.; Honolulu, Hawaii; Indianapolis, Ind.; Kansas City, Mo.; Montreal, Quebec, Canada; Minneapolis/St. Paul, Minn.; Nassau, Bahamas; New Orleans, La.; Oakdale, La.; Ottawa, Canada; Philadelphia, Pa.; Phoenix, Ariz.; Portland, Ore.; Pittsburgh, Pa.; Providence, R.I.; Raleigh-Durham, N.C.; Sacramento, Calif.; San Juan, P.R.; Savannah, Ga.; San Antonio, Texas; San Diego, Calif.; Seattle, Wash.; Salt Lake City, Utah; San Jose, Calif.; St. Paul, Minn.; St. Louis, Mo.; Toronto, Ontario, Canada; Vancouver, British Columbia, Canada.

The new information raises new issues as much as answering old ones about the advanced travel authorization program. The list of cities the administration is approving foreign nationals to travel to include Dublin, Ireland; numerous cities in Canada; Aruba; and Nassau in The Bahamas — all airports where CBP does pre-clearance of travelers to the U.S. But why is the Biden administration giving travel authorization for inadmissible aliens coming from, say, Europe? This is why the Center's demand in its ongoing lawsuit for the departure airports is key, information that was not provided to the Homeland Security Committee either.

Another public interest emerged from the data in the form of a DHS admission about the program, under subpoena, which is that the Biden administration still regards all those immigrants flying in under this program as “inadmissible”, meaning still not legally admissible when customs officials greet them inside the airports.

This admission may hold implications in lawsuits by Texas, Florida, and other states that have challenged the legality of the Biden DHS’s mass use of the supposedly limited parole authority, use dramatically wider than any prior president. It almost certainly will influence how reporters and pundits discuss the unusual flights program.

Lastly, the new information provides an unexpected view of how the world views the Biden direct-flight program. This program each month brings into the country about 30,000 people with no right to be here, sight unseen, because beneficiaries blend seamlessly into general aviation traffic — and it has generated a global demand it can never satiate. The House committee’s report says that some 1.6 million inadmissible aliens around the world had lined up for a flight as of mid-October. They’ll be waiting for many years — unless the Biden administration simply increases the arbitrary number it lets in.


“New Records: Biden DHS Has Approved Hundreds of Thousands of Migrants for Secretive Foreign Flights Directly into U.S. Airports”

“Parsing Immigration Policy podcast: “Straight Talk on Biden’s Parole Flights”

“Government Admission: Biden Parole Flights Create Security ‘Vulnerabilities’ at US Airports”

“Fact Checking the Fact Check: CIS Reporting Stands”

“Lawmakers Cite CIS in Demanding End to Secretive Immigration Flights”

“Biden’s Media Allies Tried – and Failed – to Trash My Report”