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A Texas Department of Public Safety special agent died Saturday after he was involved in a car crash near the Texas-Mexico border while arresting migrants as part of Gov. Greg Abbott's Operation Lone Star, officials said.
Anthony Salas, 37, was working alongside U.S. Border Patrol agents in Maverick County at 7:30 p.m. Friday when he was involved in a traffic accident, according to a Facebook post by DPS West Texas Region Director Jose A. Sanchez.
"Federal and State law enforcement officers at the scene immediately began CPR before transporting Special Agent Salas to the hospital in Eagle Pass, where he was airlifted to University Hospital in San Antonio," the Facebook post said. "At approximately 11:30 a.m. (Saturday), Special Agent Salas succumbed to his injuries with his family by his side."
The six migrants, who DPS officials said lacked proper documentation, were treated for injuries that were not life-threatening and are in the custody of the Border Patrol.
“I am saddened to hear that DPS Special Agent Anthony Salas was killed in a horrific vehicle accident in the line of duty in Eagle Pass," Abbott said in a statement. "This tragedy is a somber reminder of the selfless sacrifices our law enforcement make as they work to keep us safe. I ask Texans to join Cecilia and me in praying for Agent Salas' family as they grieve this unimaginable loss."
Salas joined DPS in 2013 and was stationed in El Paso. He previously served in the Marine Corps.
Lt. Gov. Dan Patrick viewed the death through a political lens.
“President Biden’s open border policy and refusal to even admit there is a crisis on the border puts law enforcement lives at risk every day,” Patrick said in a statement.
Abbott unveiled Operation Lone Star last March, saying he was deploying thousands of DPS officers and Texas National Guard troops to the border amid a sharp increase in migrants crossing from Mexico illegally or seeking asylum.
It is with great sadness we share the death of Special Agent Anthony Salas. Please visit our website for more details about his heroic service and sacrifice and keep his family in your prayers. https://t.co/851wfSYV6K pic.twitter.com/komIADHuO3
— Texas DPS (@TxDPS) January 22, 2022
"We will surge the resources and law enforcement personnel needed to confront this crisis,” Abbott said at the time, blaming the Biden administration for policies that he said invited illegal immigration and roiled the border in a growing humanitarian crisis.
Operation Lone Star features a novel approach to border enforcement: State troopers are arresting immigrants on misdemeanor criminal trespassing charges. As a result, hundreds of migrants have been detained in border jails on state charges.
Earlier this month a state district judge ruled that the policy violates the U.S. Constitution, dismissing a trespassing charge against an Ecuadoran engineer seeking asylum. Defense attorneys then filed a petition in Travis County challenging more than 400 arrests they say were part of the effort to combat illegal border crossings.
Abbott's office last year committed almost $75 million to the effort, including $22.3 million toward efforts to prosecute state crimes at the border.
Austin American-Statesman reporter Natalia Contreras can be reached at 512-626-4036 or email@example.com. Follow her on Twitter and Facebook, @NataliaECG.
This article originally appeared on Austin American-Statesman: Texas DPS officer Anthony Salas killed in car crash near Eagle Pass