The U.S. has temporarily stopped a voluntary repatriation program to fly home undocumented Mexican immigrants caught trying to enter Arizona during the summer because there aren’t enough illegal border crossers to fill daily flights, reports the Arizona Republic. There have been no flights this year under the 8-year-old program designed to reduce immigrant deaths by dissuading Mexicans caught crossing the Arizona border from trying again in the fierce heat of summer. Attempts to keep them going and justify the costs of the $100 million program by filling planes with deported criminals have apparently been blocked by the Mexican government, which didn’t want violent male offenders mixed in with women and children.
The U.S. Border Patrol and Immigration and Customs Enforcement have gone back to the practice of returning most immigrants directly across the Arizona-Mexico border. By flying undocumented Mexican immigrants from Tucson more than 1,100 miles south to Mexico City, rather than simply forcing them to walk back across the border, it was believed fewer would make the trek back north and seek out smugglers to try to lead them across again. The Republic reported last year that there have been questions about the program’s effectiveness. From 2004 to 2011, the government spent $90 million to $100 million to fly 125,164 undocumented immigrants back to Mexico from Tucson.