13 Investigates discovers Texas was billed $845,458 for four migrant charger flights

Saturday, January 20, 2024
13 Investigates: Texas billed $845k for four migrant charter flights
13 Investigates found Texas was billed $845,458 for four charter flights carrying migrants from Texas border towns to Democratic-led cities.

HOUSTON, Texas (KTRK) -- 13 Investigates has found Texas was billed $845,458 for four charter flights carrying migrants from Texas border towns to Chicago, Philadelphia, New York, and Rockford, Illinois.

The video above is from ABC13's Live Streaming Channel.

Texas Gov. Greg Abbott first directed the Texas Division of Emergency Management to send migrants by bus to Democratic-led cities in April 2022 in what he called an effort to "provide much-needed relief to our overrun border towns."

Over the last month, Texas started sending migrants to cities via charter planes.

The state was billed $135,000 by iAero Airways for a Dec. 19, 2023, flight, according to invoices obtained by 13 Investigates on Friday.

According to our previous reporting, that flight carried more than 120 migrants from El Paso to Chicago, which equals at least $1,000 per migrant.

Abbott is specifically sending migrants to sanctuary cities, which the City of Chicago's website says "will not ask about your immigration status, disclose that information to authorities, or, most importantly, deny you city services based on your immigration status."

SEE ALSO: Texas flies 120 migrants to Chicago as part of state's million-dollar operation

According to an invoice, the Texas Division of Emergency Management was billed $227,427 by Zephyr Aviation, LLC, for a Dec. 26, 2023, flight from El Paso to New York.

There were more than 200 migrants on that flight, which was diverted to Philadelphia International Airport due to weather. After waiting on the plane for about two and a half hours, those migrants were taken to New York by bus.

The state was also billed $247,926 for a Jan. 2, 2024, flight from El Paso to Philadelphia and $235,105 for a migrant flight from San Antonio to Rockford, Illinois, according to an invoice.

Virginia-based Zephyr Aviation, LLC was in charge of both of those flights.

There were more than 300 asylum seekers on the flight to Rockford.

Since launching its migrant transportation program in April 2022, Texas has bused 101,800 migrants to six cities across the U.S.

13 Investigates previously found Texas spent $89 million from July 18, 2022, through Oct. 12, 2023, to bus migrants out of state.

SEE ALSO: 13 Investigates digs into cost of Abbott's migrant busing operation

New York City has seen the most migrants, with 37,000 sent there since August 2022. Chicago has received 31,000 migrants since August 2022, and Denver has seen 15,900 migrants since May 2023, according to information released by Friday by Abbott's office.

Washington, D.C. was among the first cities to receive migrants, with more than 12,500 sent there since April 2022, according to Abbott. Philadelphia has seen more than 3,400 migrants, and Los Angeles has received more than 1,500.

"Operation Lone Star continues to fill the dangerous gaps created by the Biden Administration's refusal to secure the border. Every individual who is apprehended or arrested and every ounce of drugs seized would have otherwise made their way into communities across Texas and the nation due to President Joe Biden's open border policies," Abbott said in a news release on Friday.

Democratic-led cities are feeling impacts from the influx of migrants to their cities.

Last month, Chicago's city council passed an ordinance that would tow and impound buses that are not properly permitted and do not drop off migrants in designated landing zones.

Chicago already utilized the ordinance by towing and impounding an unpermitted bus that traveled from Eagle Pass, Texas, to Chicago with 49 passengers. They've also fined thousands of dollars to bus companies carrying migrants.

For updates on this story, follow Kevin Ozebek on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram.

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