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Busload of ‘Illegal Invaders’ Was Actually the Gonzaga Basketball Team
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Busload of ‘Illegal Invaders’ Was Actually the Gonzaga Basketball Team

A Michigan politician’s claim was debunked quickly.

Ben Gregg of Gonzaga shoots a three-pointer during practice ahead of the NCAA men's basketball tournament Sweet 16 round at Little Caesars Arena in Detroit, Michigan, on March 28, 2024. (Photo by Mike Mulholland/Getty Images)

On March 27, Matthew Maddock, a Republican member of the Michigan House of Representatives, tweeted two images purporting to show buses of illegal immigrants being loaded at Detroit Metropolitan Wayne County Airport.

“We know this is happening. 100,000’s of illegals are pouring into our country. We know it’s happening in Michigan,” Maddock continued in a follow-up post. “Our own governor is offering money to take them in! Since we can’t trust the #FakeNews to investigate, citizens will. The process of investigating these issues takes time.” 

The investigatory process for this incident actually took little time, however: X users quickly pointed out that the images actually depict the aircraft and buses carrying the Gonzaga University men’s basketball team. The Bulldogs touched down in Motor City on Wednesday evening in preparation for their Friday matchup against Purdue in the Sweet 16 of the 2024 NCAA men’s basketball tournament.

Maxwell White, a producer with WXYZ Detroit—the city’s local ABC affiliate—pointed out that the plane had arrived from Spokane, Washington, where Gonzaga is located, and later confirmed with Allegiant Air that the flight in question was carrying the team.

Maddock, however, refused to back down from his assertion, responding “sure they are kommie [communist],” and “Sure kommie. Good talking point,” to two users who suggested that the aircraft had transported the Gonzaga team.

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Alex Demas is a fact checker at The Dispatch and is based in Washington, D.C. Prior to joining the company in 2023, he worked in England as a financial journalist and earned his MA in Political Economy at King's College London. When not heroically combating misinformation online, Alex can be found mixing cocktails, watching his beloved soccer team Aston Villa lose a match, or attempting to pet stray cats.