Mass. Flight School Students Arrested

The owner of a Massachusetts flight school as well as more than 30 of his students have been charged by federal authorities with being in the country illegally.

The owner of the TJ Aviation Flight Academy at Minute Man Air Field in Stow and the students received federal clearance to train as pilots despite strict security controls put in place after the Sept. 11, 2001, terrorist attacks.

Some of the 9-11 terrorists trained in the U.S.

Those arrested at the school about 30 miles west of Boston are Brazilian and have no known terrorist ties.

Ross Feinstein, a spokesman for U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement, said immigration officials have concluded that they had "no nexus to terrorism."

Boston immigration attorney William Joyce represents some of those arrested. He says the school told his clients they only needed some form of identification in order to take lessons.

He says many of them have been in the U.S. upwards of 15 years.

"Many of them have children — U.S. citizen children," Joyce says. "They wouldn't have jeopardized their situation if they knew about this."

The Transportation Security Administration says it's reviewing its procedures for clearing foreign nationals to take flight lessons.

The school's owner, Thiago DeJesus, denies he is in the U.S. illegally.

This program aired on November 5, 2010. The audio for this program is not available.


More from WBUR

Listen Live