Authorities reported that a small plane carrying undocumented migrants crashed near Presidio, Texas on Thursday.
El Paso station KFOX-TV reported that several passengers on the plane were injured and taken to El Paso hospitals for treatment while the US border patrol arrested others.
Deputies from the Presidio County Sheriff’s Office said the crash happened north of Presidio Lely International Airport just before 4 p.m. Thursday afternoon. MPs added that they realized the crash was a “smuggling attempt gone bad” after arriving at the scene to help injured passengers.
Investigators believe factors such as weight and fuel capacity may have contributed to the plane crashing, as six people were crammed into a four-seater plane that ran out of fuel.
The pilot fled from the scene of the accident and is wanted by authorities for questioning.
Presidio is a city on the Texas-Mexico border with a population of approximately 4,000. One of the country’s 328 entry points for immigrants is located in the city.
In the last fiscal year, immigration officials reported approximately 1.7 million “encounters” at the US-Mexico border, the Texas Tribune reported.
Statistics from the Migration Policy Institute show that the “unauthorized population” of Texas, or the number of undocumented immigrants, is estimated at more than 1.7 million, of which 67% are from neighboring Mexico. Central American countries such as Honduras, El Salvador and Guatemala account for an additional 18%.
The American Immigration Council reported that in 2018, there were 4.9 million immigrants to Texas, which represented 17% of the state’s population. That same year, an additional 4.5 million Texans had at least one immigrant parent.
More than a third of immigrants to Texas have become naturalized U.S. citizens, according to data from the nonprofit immigration advocacy group. In 2016, it is estimated that another third of the state’s immigrant population was undocumented.
Texas Governor Greg Abbott announced in June that the state would use $ 250 million as a down payment to build a wall along Texas’ border with Mexico. On December 18, Abbott visited part of the approximately 880-foot wall in County Starr to usher in what he called an “unprecedented” step in border security.
So far, over $ 1 billion has been set aside for border barriers, which would fund between 31 and 183 miles of the 1,254-mile-long border, the Tribune valued.
At the inauguration in mid-December, Abbott said President Joe Biden’s administration “had not done its job,” prompting the state to tighten border security.