US: No More Deportation Flights to Mexico

High costs shut down Border Patrol program

By Matt Cantor,  Newser Staff

Posted Sep 10, 2012 7:15 AM CDT

(Newser) – The US Border Patrol is ditching a program that offered illegal Mexican immigrants a free ride home, having sent 125,000 people back to Mexico since 2004. While the agency called it effective, it was also expensive—to the tune of $100 million—and recently, there have been too few illegal immigrants arrested to make it worthwhile. "Everything comes down to dollars and cents," says a Border Patrol official. "We're running into a more budget-conscious society."

Right now, Border Patrol arrests are at their lowest in 40 years, the AP notes, and more people appear to be heading to Mexico than entering the US. The program, exclusive to Arizona, was intended to help save lives; many entering the US died while making their way through desert heat. And by taking migrants far into Mexico, it also aimed to reduce the likelihood of their return. While it won't come back this year, the program could be restarted in the future. In the meantime, however, the Border Patrol is using buses—and sending 70 people per day to a Tucson court for potential imprisonment.

Illegal immigrants prepare to enter a bus after being processed at Tucson Sector U.S. Border Patrol Headquarters Thursday, Aug. 9, 2012, in Tucson, Ariz.
Illegal immigrants prepare to enter a bus after being processed at Tucson Sector U.S. Border Patrol Headquarters Thursday, Aug. 9, 2012, in Tucson, Ariz.   (AP Photo/Ross D. Franklin)
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