Abilene Regional Airport (ABI) staff is currently working with U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE), area detention facilities, commercial airlines, and The Salvation Army to facilitate transportation and shelter of undocumented immigrants flown into ABI by ICE.
ICE has chartered several flights of undocumented immigrants into ABI since June 2021. The undocumented immigrants are flown into ABI as part of transportation to two ICE detention facilities located in the greater Abilene area.
In this process, ICE follows established procedures to provide a safe release plan for immigrants who are eligible for release. Undocumented immigrants eligible for release are able to relocate anywhere in the U.S. while awaiting immigration proceedings. Undocumented immigrants deemed eligible for release are done so on a case-by-case review.
Undocumented immigrants deemed eligible for release by ICE are allowed to travel using any means available at their own cost. While many of the undocumented immigrants fly out of ABI, some seek temporary shelter at The Salvation Army while transportation arrangements are made.
ABI staff is working closely with ICE, detention facilities, commercial airlines, and The Salvation Army to resolve any issues that develop, including individuals being dropped off or arriving on their own at ABI too late or too early for departing flights. Given the confusion and stress this can cause, the City uses its resources to ensure that each person needing assistance gets the help needed while treated with compassion and respect.
The City of Abilene is working with our elected representatives in Washington to seek relief for all parties involved.