Bill Still Report Updates Claim that UPS Smuggled Refugees on Plane-Fiction!
Summary of eRumor:
Author and filmmaker Bill Still has followed up on reports that a UPS cargo plane smuggled illegal immigrants into the country at an airport in Harrison, Pennsylvania.
There’s still no proof that UPS has brought refugees into the country on converted cargo planes, and UPS directly told TruthorFiction.com that the claim isn’t true.
We first reported on the story in November 2015 (Click here for the report). A man claimed that 30 charter buses pulled up outside a UPS parcel flight at Harrisburg International Airport and loaded passengers — Muslim immigrants, according to the narrator — and headed down a highway. The man told that tale while filming the back of a charter bus at night.
We deemed the story to be false for a number of reasons. First, the video only shows the back of one bus on a darkened highway. There’s not proof that people — or illegal immigrants, for that matter — deplaned onto the buses from a UPS cargo plane. The videographer conveniently didn’t get video of the 30 buses being loaded up. Second, UPS called the claim “erroneous” and told us that UPS had not been involved in passenger flights of any kind into our out of Harrisburg.
Despite a lack of evidence and UPS’s efforts to publicly address the rumor, it has persisted. Bill Still, a conservative author and filmmaker, picked up the story with a video published on his “Bill Still Report” YouTube channel that had gotten more than 222,000 views. In a bout a month
In the report, Bill Still claims that “we may be getting closer to the bottom of the UPS charter plane that unloaded 30 busloads of people at night at the Harrisburg Regional Airport.” To make his case, Bill Still cites claims that were presumably submitted by his readers. We’ll take a look at each of them here:
UPS has converted planes for passenger use-Outdated!
It’s true that UPS dabbled in passenger flights temporarily in the late 1990s and early 2000s, but the company had discontinued that practice in 2001.
UPS converted a number of 727 cargo planes into passenger planes for weekend flights to vacation destinations like Mexico. The idea was to use company planes to generate revenue on weekends when they would have otherwise been parked on the tarmac, Philly.com reported in 2000:
UPS started its passenger charter program in 1997, after company staffers and a consultant determined that money could be made by converting some older 727s, which usually fly packages just four nights a week, into passenger planes on weekends. The 727s were built for airlines in the 1970s as “QCs” or quick-change models, designed to be converted from cargo to passenger service and back, said Brad Eyster, UPS aircraft charter manager at its Louisville, Ky., airline headquarters.
Despite early success of the UPS passenger program (it generated $20 million in revenue over its lifespan), a company rep told the aviation website Airliners.net that passenger service was discontinued in 2001 because it couldn’t be scaled to remain competitive with commercial airlines:
“Our passenger service was discontinued in 2001; our competitors were seating close to 200 people per aircraft. For us to remain competitive, we would have had to invest long-term in the venture. Instead, we decided to discontinue the service and focus on our core business of parcel delivery.”
So, it’s true that UPS temporarily dabbled in passenger flights in the late 90s and early 2000s, but that hardly proves that the company illegally sneaks immigrants into the country, as Bill Still’s commenter seems to suggest.
A pilot said he was fired for refusing to sign a non-disclosure agreement to break FAA regulations-Unproven!
Bill Still then cites a report from an unnamed commenter who said he “overheard” a pilot say that he was fired after refusing to sign a NDA that allowed him to break FAA regulation by flying refugees into JFK International Airport in the middle of the night, bypassing security.
Unnamed sources that cited other unnamed sources that were “overheard” aren’t reliable. Besides, the idea that airport security punches out at night and can “bypassed” is false. FAA airport security regulations don’t have a 9-5 requirement; they must be followed at all times.
UPS Actions Could Be Part of the Pennsylvania Refugee Resettlement Program-Unproven!
Again, Bill Still cites an unnamed source who speculates that UPS has smuggled immigrants into the country as part of the Pennsylvania Refugee Resettlement Program. No evidence is given to support that claim, and we couldn’t find any, either.
The stated purpose of the Pennsylvania Refugee Resettlement program is to provide “a continuum of employment, education, case management, health and financial support services to newly arrived refugees in the Commonwealth.”
New Jersey Governor Chris Christie Has Backed up the Claim-Fiction!
New Jersey Governor Chris Christie complained about federal resettlement of Syrian refugees in a November 2015 interview on FOX News — but he didn’t confirm reports that refugees had been illegally flown into the country at night.
Chris Christie said the Obama administration had relocated 75 Syrian refugees in New Jersey over the last year “without even communicating with us.” In an interview on “The O’Reilly Factor,” Christie said:
“The administration places them directly with non-governmental organizations, and they do not even give the administration of the state the courtesy (of notification)… We’ve had 75 Syrian refugees who have come into the state since January.”
The State Department confirmed in a November 2015 report that 75 Syrian refugees had been resettled in New Jersey up to that point in 2015. And, communication between federal and state officials in New Jersey is unclear, but states are supposed to be at least consulted about refugee resettlement under the law.
Stee Vladeck, a professor at American University Washington College of Law, wrote in a blog post that the Supreme Court has ruled that the federal solely oversees matters of immigration, but states should at least be “consulted” about incoming immigrants:
In other words, states get consulted, and they get to make recommendations about where within their territory specific refugees should be resettled. That’s more than nothing, but it’s a lot less than a lot. There’s no veto; there’s no remedy if the federal government doesn’t actually “consult”; and there’s no requirement that the federal government actually implement whatever recommendations the state may make. To be sure, states can make life difficult for resettled refugees by, among other things, shutting down cooperative state/federal programs designed to aid resettlement, and they can make lots of political trouble for the federal government, but refusing to cooperate and complaining loudly is not remotely the same thing as having the legal authority actively to prevent resettlement.
In conclusion, despite a Bill Still Report claim that “we are getting to the bottom” of claims that UPS cargo planes have smuggled illegal immigrants into the country — there’s still no proof that this has actually happened. Claims cited in the Still Report YouTube video checked out as outdated, unproven and fiction. That’s why we’re still calling this one “false.”