Repatriation program for Mexican immigrants evolving

Sep 11, 2012, 6:43 AM | Updated: 6:44 am
...

WASHINGTON — The U.S. Department of Homeland Security would like it to be known that reports of the death of a Mexican immigrant repatriation program have been greatly exaggerated.

Tight budgets have forced a halt this year to the Migration Interior Repatriation Program, which has flown illegal immigrants deep into Mexico since 2004 instead of dropping them on the other side of the border.

But government officials said they are working out the details of a new, “more robust program” that will achieve the same goals as the MIRP.

A Homeland Security statement released late Monday said, “Discussions regarding flights to the interior of Mexico in coordination with the government of Mexico are ongoing and an announcement is expected soon.”

Similarly, a Mexican Embassy official in Washington said both countries “remain fully committed to the objective of having all repatriations of Mexican nationals be conducted in a safe, dignified and orderly manner, with safeguards that guarantee the respect of human rights.”

The MIRP was a joint effort by Immigration and Customs Enforcement, and Customs and Border Patrol that offered a flight to Mexico City to certain Mexican nationals without criminal records who were caught illegally in Arizona. Immigrants could reject the offer.

The program began in 2004 and operated only in the summer, when the risk to illegal border crossers is greatest because of desert heat. It ran through last summer, when 8,893 immigrants were flown home.

The objective, as cited by the Department of Homeland Security, was to “save lives and disrupt the human trafficking cycle.”

A DHS spokesman said Monday that the proposed new program, the Interior Removal Initiative, is “the same program but with a different name.” He said it builds on MIRP and the pilot will be launched in October.

Under the new program, immigrants who qualify will not be given the option of accepting the flight home. It will also be expanded to a Mexican national apprehended anywhere in the country, not just those in Arizona.

Immigrants deemed qualified for the program will undergo a medical screening and an interview with Mexican consular officials to determine if they should be placed on a charter flight to Mexico City.

Mexican Embassy spokesman Ricardo Alday said the old program was not implemented this summer “due to the realignment of programs and budget priorities within the Department of Homeland Security.” Despite that, he said, both governments continue to operate “an array of permanent measures to prevent the loss of human life at our common border.”

Santa Cruz County Sheriff Tony Estrada called the old program a positive and successful one and he said he definitely supports what it tried to do.

“It gives them [illegal immigrants] the opportunity to go back home safely and hopefully readjust to their lives, and that they will stay,” Estrada said.

He vigorously endorsed the safety afforded by this direct transfer to Mexico, as opposed to facing the desert heat as well as the smugglers.

“[The MIRP] disrupted the human smugglers from having contact with these people that are paying to go to Mexico,” he said.

We want to hear from you.

Have a story idea or tip? Pass it along to the KTAR News team here.

Arizona News

(Par-Tee Tour Golf Festival Photos)...
KTAR.com

It’s going to be a Par-Tee when golf and music festival takes over Valley course

Part golf tournament, part music festival, the Par-Tee Tour is coming to Mesa's Dobson Ranch Golf Course in November.
11 hours ago
(Twitter Photo/Arizona Department of Transportation)...
KTAR.com

Motorcycle rider dies after falling, getting hit on Glendale freeway

A motorcycle rider was killed on a West Valley freeway late Sunday after falling then getting hit by a vehicle that fled the scene, authorities said.
11 hours ago
(AP Photo/Jae C. Hong)...
KTAR.com

Child shot in Phoenix neighborhood, rushed to hospital; suspects outstanding

A child was shot and rushed to the hospital Sunday night with wounds that weren't believed to be life-threatening, Phoenix police said.
11 hours ago
(Facebook photo/Arizona K12 Center at Northern Arizona University)...
Griselda Zetino

Arizona program that pays for students to become teachers gets an extra $15 million

More money is going to the state program that gives scholarships to students studying to become teachers in Arizona after demand exceeded available funding this year.  
11 hours ago
(Flickr Photo/Grand Canyon National Park)...
SuElen Rivera

Over 200 rafters, backpackers affected by norovirus in Grand Canyon

More than 200 people who visited the Grand Canyon National Park over the spring contracted norovirus, federal health officials said.
11 hours ago
(Facebook Photo/Peoria Unified School District)...
SuElen Rivera

Federal investigation finds Peoria school district failed to address racial harassment

Peoria Unified School District announced a resolution Friday following racial harassment toward students, officials said.
11 hours ago

Sponsored Articles

...
Quantum Fiber

How high-speed fiber internet can improve everyday life

Quantum Fiber supplies unlimited data with speeds up to 940 mbps, enough to share 4K videos with coworkers 20 times faster than a cable.
...
Sanderson Ford

Don’t let rising fuel prices stop you from traveling Arizona this summer

There's no better time to get out on the open road and see what the beautiful state of Arizona has to offer. But if the cost of gas is putting a cloud over your summer vacation plans, let Sanderson Ford help with their wide-range selection of electric vehicles.
...
Mayo Clinic Orthopedics and Sports Medicine

Why your student-athlete’s physical should be conducted by a sports medicine specialist

Dr. Anastasi from Mayo Clinic Orthopedics and Sports Medicine in Tempe answers some of the most common questions.
Repatriation program for Mexican immigrants evolving