SAN DIEGO (AP) — The U.S. government began flying Mexican deportees home on Tuesday in a two-month experiment aimed at relieving Mexican border cities overwhelmed with people ordered to leave the United States.
The planes will fly twice a week from El Paso, Texas, to Mexico City through Nov. 29, at which time both governments will evaluate the results and decide whether to continue. The first flight left with 131 Mexicans aboard.
The flights are not voluntary, unlike a previous effort from 2004 to 2011 to deport Mexicans arrested by the Border Patrol during Arizona’s deadly summer heat.
The U.S. government will pay for the flight, and the Mexican government will pay to return people from Mexico City to their hometowns, U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement said in a news release.
The experiment comes as often-violent Mexican border cities along the U.S. border are getting hit with large numbers of deportees who have no roots and few employment prospects.
“The newly repatriated, often with no means to return home, are susceptible to becoming part of criminal organizations as a means of survival,” Gustavo Mohar, Mexico’s interior undersecretary for population, migration and religious affairs, said in a statement released by ICE.
ICE, which is managing the flights, said the flights will include Mexicans with criminal convictions in the United States and those who don’t have any. They will be taken from throughout the United States to Chaparral, N.M., before being put on flights at El Paso International Airport.