Repatriation program resumesPosted: Updated:
Within the next four months, about 37,000 Mexican nationals will be deported from the U.S. back to Mexico -- guaranteed. It's part of the department of homeland security's Mexican Interior Repatriation Program, which happens every summer. The goal is to save lives.
Some came alone -- others with children. We can't show their faces, but we can tell you none looked happy. These 150 Mexican nationals came to America illegally, hoping to start a new life. Instead they'll be flown home to their old ones.
"At the end of the day there's no question both countries agree that we need to do this to save lives," says ICE Deputy Assistant Secretary Alonzo Pena.
All are being deported as part of a program run by the U.S. department of homeland security, the Mexican ministry of foreign affairs and the Mexican ministry of the interior. Officials with all three agencies announced today the program would resume for a seventh year. They feel it has to be done, "Too many people were dying in the desert trying to come to the U.S."
For four months during the summer Mexican nationals caught in Tucson and Yuma illegally will be deported by plane. They'll deport roughly 300-Mexican nationals a day -- 37,000 total in four months. All go back voluntarily. Officials say they aren't forced.
"They would've been in bad shape physically. We would've processed em and they would've returned them to Nogales right into the hands of the smuggler," Agent Victor Manjarrez says border patrol benefits the most from the program. One less Mexican national in the hands of drug smugglers means one less violent death. 93,000 Mexican nationals have been safely deported through the program.
"We have come a long way from when we started this program," says Pena.
As long as there's funding, they say the program will continue.
This year the "MIRP" program received at least $18M in funding. Deportation flights happen twice a day. Thursday was the third day of flights so far this summer.