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‘Stop the invasion’: Migrant flights in battleground state ignite bipartisan backlash from lawmakers

Montana representatives are sounding the alarm on the southern border crisis, after a group of migrants flew into state late Wednesday night.

Democrat and Republican lawmakers in a crucial battleground state are “deeply troubled” after a group of illegal immigrants were flown to the Big Sky Country on a late night flight.

Five migrants, reportedly from Venezuela, were flown from New York to Kalispell, Montana Wednesday night into Glacier Park International Airport, Flathead County Sheriff Brian Heino confirmed to Fox News Digital. The migrants were reportedly dropped off and eventually provided housing in the city, but Heino said it was just “one of many instances.”

“The only way an illegal immigrant from South America ends up in Montana is if a ‘nonprofit’ connected with the Biden Administration moves them there,” said Rep. Ryan Zinke, R-Mont., said in a press release, referring to Valley Neighbors, the local nonprofit that picked up the migrants who were flown into the state.


“Montana law enforcement, schools, hospitals and safety nets are being stressed to their max because of the Biden border crisis,” said Zinke, who represents the district covering Flathead. “It’s unacceptable and absolutely needs to end now.”

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Zinke took the effort a step further, penning a letter to Secretary of Homeland Security Alejandro Mayorkas Thursday that urged him to “immediately detain and deport this group of illegal immigrants.” The letter, obtained by Fox News Digital, requested information regarding their knowledge of the migrants and how they traveled from the southern border to northern Montana.

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A spokesperson for Sen. Jon Tester, D-Mont., said he is working with state officials to monitor the situation, telling Fox News Digital that it “undermines our national security” when migrants are allowed to enter the U.S. illegally.

“Senator Tester is in touch with local officials in Flathead County and is closely monitoring this ongoing situation,” the spokesperson said in a statement. “He believes that allowing anyone to enter the country without being properly vetted or going through a legal process undermines our national security, which is why he voted for bipartisan border security legislation that would give law enforcement the tools to crack down on individuals entering the country illegally and keep Montana and our country safe.”

Sen. Steve Daines, R-Mont., blamed President Joe Biden for the migrant crisis, saying he and “Senate Democrats failed to secure the border and now Montanans can see that failure firsthand.”

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Gov. Greg Gianforte, R-Mont., said he was “deeply troubled and frustrated” by the situation, while Rep. Matt Rosendale, R-Mont., demanded Biden “be held accountable and his actions be reversed,” saying “Montana is not a sanctuary state.”

Former Navy SEAL Tim Sheehy, a Republican Senate candidate in Montana, also chimed in, blaming the Democrat he is running to unseat in the fall for the “insane” migrant crisis.

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“A month ago, the Senate voted to continue secret, taxpayer-funded illegal migrant flights by one vote – Jon Tester’s. Now, illegals are reportedly being flown to Montana,” Sheehy said in a statement. “This is insane. Stop the invasion, seal the border, and put America First!”

The flights come days after Fox News reported on a subpoena by the House Homeland Security Committee about a separate parole program for migrants, under which approximately 200,000 migrants flew into the U.S. between January through August 2023. The subpoena revealed that migrants have flown into more than 45 cities as part of the program for Cuban, Haitian, Nicaraguan and Venezuelan migrants.

Fox News’ Bill Melugin contributed to this report.

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