ABILENE, Texas (KTAB/KRBC) — The Salvation Army says 65 immigrants who were dropped off after being flown in by ICE planes chartered to Abilene Regional Airport have been tested for COVID-19.
“I’ll be very careful, I don’t want to demonize these immigrants because I think they have been treated unfairly,” said Abilene Mayor Anthony Williams.
Mayor Williams says city leaders were not made aware by ICE about transporting undocumented immigrants into Abilene regional airport until the end of July.
“And then in July we had three charter planes, we did not receive the manifest, but we estimate in those three flights there were around 200,” said Mayor Williams.
After reaching out to Governor Greg Abbott, Mayor Williams says no one in his office was aware of the planes either.
“I’m aware that a handful of them, I believe 65, I think that’s accurate, were dropped off at the Salvation Army,” said Mayor Williams.
Congressmen Jodey Arrington came to Abilene for a news conference and says he was also unaware of the planes prior to being alerted by BigCountryHomepage.com.
He says he visited the Blue Bonnet detention center in Jones County and did not receive many answers.
Salvation Army Captain Josh McKain says this is the first time since he’s been with the salvation army in Abilene, June of 2019, that they have ever hosted undocumented immigrants. He gave us this statement confirming they are providing overnight shelter, shower facilities and meals to immigrants.
“In collaboration with bluebonnet/ICE, the Abilene Regional Airport, and other agencies, the Salvation Army in Abilene is providing emergency overnight shelter, shower facilities, and meals to immigrants who have been vetted and processed by US immigration and are awaiting transportation to approved destinations within the USA. The Salvation Army is living out its mission to “meet human needs in His name, without discrimination” in the midst of the humanitarian crisis along our country’s border, as we have done in Abilene for more than 113 years.
Mckain confirmed with ICE the immigrants have been COVID tested prior to arriving at the Salvation Army.