- The Washington Times - Monday, July 10, 2006

The U.S. and Mexican governments have resumed a repatriation program to return Mexican nationals caught illegally in the United States to their hometowns in Mexico’s interior, U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) officials said.

ICE spokeswoman Kadia Koroma said the Interior Repatriation Program, which resumed with the departure of a flight Friday from Tucson International Airport with 67 Mexicans who volunteered to be repatriated, will “ensure the safe, effective and humanitarian return of Mexican nationals illegally in the United States.”

A 2004 memorandum of understanding between the Department of Homeland Security and the Mexican government established the framework for the two nations to work cooperatively in repatriating Mexican nationals who volunteer to be returned home.

The program returns detained illegal aliens to Mexico’s interior rather than to towns along the U.S.-Mexico border as part of an effort to both control the Southwest border and to save the lives of those who might try again to cross the desert areas of the Southwest to regain entry to the United States.

Many detained illegal aliens who are returned to various border communities after their capture often find it easier and more economical to re-enter the United States than return home to Mexico’s interior, authorities have said.

Of the 1.15 million illegal aliens apprehended last year by the U.S. Border Patrol, the vast majority were Mexican nationals and more than half of them were detained along the Arizona-Mexico border — particularly a 260-mile section of Arizona’s southeast known as the Tucson sector.

For the past two summers, Ms. Koroma said, U.S. and Mexican officials have developed and jointly administered the repatriation program to return nearly 35,000 Mexican nationals to the interior of Mexico. The program initially was funded and managed by U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP).

Under the program, which is scheduled to continue until Sept. 30, Mexican nationals apprehended in Arizona will be processed at centers in Nogales and Yuma, where they will be interviewed by Mexican and U.S. officials for inclusion in the repatriation program. Ms. Koroma said those who volunteer will then be flown to Mexico City and provided bus transportation to their places of origin.

“By quickly returning aliens to the interior of Mexico rather than to the Mexican border, both nations seek so save lives and discourage additional illegal border crossings through hostile, desert terrain,” she said.

Former CBP Commissioner Robert C. Bonner, who helped create the program, has called it “a crucial, integral component” of Homeland Security’s Arizona Border Control Initiative to gain greater operational control and to save lives in dangerous traffic areas along the border with Mexico.

“Returning illegal aliens to the interior of Mexico allows us to disrupt the inhumane and often callous human-smuggling organizations that operate along the border area,” he said when the program first began.

Copyright © 2019 The Washington Times, LLC. Click here for reprint permission.

The Washington Times Comment Policy

The Washington Times welcomes your comments on Spot.im, our third-party provider. Please read our Comment Policy before commenting.


Click to Read More and View Comments

Click to Hide