ABILENE, Texas (KTAB)– The transportation of undocumented immigrants through the Abilene Regional Airport continued Tuesday as another plane unloaded detainees to awaiting ICE buses in route to the Bluebonnet ICE Detention Facility in Anson. This is the first plane of the new year to come through Abilene but likely not the last.

As we reported in August of 2021, the planes started showing up on local tarmac in July, state and city officials unaware of the landings until our coverage.

During those initial reports, we found that some of the undocumented detainees (per federal catch and release policies) were flying through Abilene in route to an awaiting U.S. sponsor who they will stay with until their immigration hearing determining their asylum status.

However, we also learned that some of the undocumented immigrants with nowhere to go were taken to the Salvation Army of Abilene for shelter. At the time, Rep. Jodey Arrington (R-TX) District 19 was very outspoken on his opposition to this, claiming the federal government was putting the public in danger by allowing asylum-seekers to remain in the U.S. pending their hearing.

Tuesday, Arrington’s sentiments in response to learning the immigration flights were again taking place in Abilene were about the same. He greatly opposes current catch and release policies and says his and other lawmakers demands to bolster border security are falling on deaf ears.

“We followed up on a number of occasions, in a number of formats including a letter with a list of questions,” said Rep. Arrington. “We’ve got nothing but crickets, there’s been no substantive response to those questions which leads me to believe that they [the Biden administration] are fully committed to their current policies.”

Back in November,  Rep. Arrington filed the “Protect Communities from a Porous Border Act of 2021”. Among the goals for the bill were to fingerprint undocumented detainees and cross-reference the prints with criminal databases, notify governors when undocumented individuals are released in their state, and give local governments the choice of allowing or denying the release of undocumented persons in their borders.

Rep. Arrington says efforts to pass the legislation have not prevailed, but new legislation continues to try and achieve similar goals to the aforementioned act.

City of Abilene Transportation Director Don Green says the airport was notified the charter plane would be coming through the city several days ago, and that such goings-on have become routine.

“Abilene Aero which is the company that does aircraft fueling and they also handle charters like this they notified us when they found out last Friday,” said Green.

Green says the moving of the undocumented persons Tuesday went smoothly and without incident, we followed the buses to the Bluebonnet ICE Detention Facility in Anson where transport from the buses to the building were also unremarkable.

With Tuesday’s arrival, Green says undocumented individuals are likely to come back through the terminal after being processed at ICE facilities. He estimates that to take place in about a month.

“It’s become more routine since last summer,” said Green. “It typically means in about 3 weeks or so more immigrants will come through the terminal.”