Flights Suspended for Illegal Immigrants

September 12, 2012 § Leave a comment

The US government stopped flights home for Mexicans who were caught entering the US illegally, a move that would save a lot of money. The last seven years saw a whopping $100 million taxpayers money going into it. From 2004, more than 125,000 passengers were flown into Mexico for free. There was a mixed response to this move with the Mexican government officials and migrants initially against it, but was gradually accepted as another step to help people get back.

With Border Patrol arrests coming down and proof that more people may be heading south of the border than north coming out, officials found it difficult to fill the planes and found the costs increasingly difficult to substantiate. Flights were cut to once from twice daily last year. This year, there haven’t been any. To keep the flights going, there was a proposal to mix Mexicans who commit crimes while living in the US. This did not go well with the Mexican government who did not like the idea of seating hardened criminals next to families, elderly and the frail who recently crossed the border. Though it is expected the flight operation will resume, it will for sure not be this year.

U.S. Homeland Security Janet Napolitano and Mexico Interior Secretary Alejandro Poire said in February that they proposed to launch a pilot program starting April 1 to fly migrants arrested while living in the US into Mexico. It was because of complaints from Mexican border cities that too many deportees were being dumped on their streets and further contribute to crime and unemployment. It has to be mentioned that the Mexican Interior Repatriation Program flights carried 125,164 passengers at a cost of $90.6 million starting 2004, or an average of $724 each, according to US Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE).

The lowest operation was seen in 2009 where the flights ran as few as 38 days and the highest was in 2010 with as many as 120 days in 2010, when a record 23,384 passengers were flown. In the previous year, there were 8,893 passengers flown at a cost of $5 million, at an average of $562 each. The Border Patrol enforcement’s new strategy, introduced in Tucson last year and later extended to the entire border, believes on tougher punishments that were rolled out recently. One calls for jail for up to six months and another one transports migrants to border cities deep to be deported there.

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