Illegal Border Crossings Drop So Much that Homeland Security Halts Program to Fly Immigrants to Mexico

Thursday, September 13, 2012
Mexicans boarding a deportation flight (photo: Ron Medvescek, Arizona Daily Star)

After eight years of flying illegal immigrants back to Mexico, the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) has stopped its repatriation program due to dwindling numbers of unauthorized border crossings.


Since 2004, DHS has spent about $100 million a year sending undocumented Mexicans by plane to Mexico City. It used aircraft to return immigrants a thousand miles away with the hope that the distance would dissuade them from traveling all the way back north to the border.


By this summer, however, the Customs and Border Protection and Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) were picking up fewer illegal immigrants—to the point where officials had trouble filling up flights.


The Mexican Interior Repatriation Program involved only first-time crossers and families from Mexico’s interior states. DHS proposed adding violent offenders headed for deportation to the flights to make them more cost-efficient, but the Mexican government balked at the idea.


For now, federal immigration officers have gone back to the practice of returning most immigrants directly across the Arizona-Mexico border.


More than 125,000 illegal immigrants were flown back to Mexico from 2004 to 2011 under the program.

-Noel Brinkerhoff


To Learn More:

Program Flying Migrants Back To Mexico Suspended (by Bob Ortega, Arizona Republic)

Immigration Arrests Drop to 38-Year Low (by Noel Brinkerhoff, AllGov)

Net Migration from Mexico to U.S. Comes to a Halt (by Noel Brinkerhoff, AllGov)


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