Border Patrol Blunder: One-way flights home for illegal crossers will continue
In an email sent to 9OYS by a The Department of Homeland Security spokeman, DHS said it's building on its Repatriation Program, not eliminating it.Photo: Video by kgun9.com
Reporter: Valerie Cavazos
TUCSON (KGUN9-TV) -- The Department of Homeland Security is ending it's one-way flights home for illegal crossers to save taxpayers tons of money.
It's an interesting headline, but it's not true. A Border Patrol official made a big blunder during an interview with the Associated Press. And 9OYS discovered this after checking on the AP story.
This is the real story.
In an email sent to 9OYS by a The Department of Homeland Security spokeman, DHS is building on the Repatriation Program, not eliminating it.
Over the past seven years, more than 125-thousand illegal crosser were flown deep into Mexico for free during the hot summer months. It's part of a Federal program, called the Mexico Interior Repatriation Program (MIRP), and so far, the 7 year experiment cost the American taxpayers nearly a 100-million dollars.
But the Department of Homeland Security said it's working on a new pilot program, called the Interior Removal Initiative (IRI), which was announced in February by U.S. Department of Homeland Security Secretary Janet Napolitano and Mexico Interior Secretary Alejandro Piore, and will begin next month.
Tucson Immigration expert, John Messing, weighed in on the new initiative and the Mexican government's involvement. He said, "(The Mexican officials) are voluntarily participating in this repatriation program. And perhaps some financial contributions as well and it's causing a shifting of the sands."
In Monday's statement sent to 9OYS, Homeland Security said, "The official interviewed for (Monday's) AP story did not have up to date information about the status of these programs."
"The discontinuation of this program was not accompanied by the statement regarding its replacement with something that is more effective and less expensive and more palatable for the Mexicans," said Messing, from Messing Law Offices.
The Homeland Security spokesperson told KGUN9, "Discussions regarding flights to the interior of Mexico in coordination with the government of Mexico are ongoing and an announcement is expected soon."
Messing said, "So they wanted to add that so no one would be surprised that there is a different program with a different name that is trying to accomplish a similar purpose."
KGUN will continue to stay on top of this story.
Background information sent to KGUN9 from The Department of Homeland Security:
The Mexico Interior Repatriation Program (MIRP) is a joint CBP and ICE initiative, established in coordination with the Government of Mexico that works to break the smuggling cycle. Under MIRP, Mexican nationals without violent criminal convictions who are apprehended during the summer months in high-risk areas of the Sonoran Desert in Arizona are voluntarily repatriated to the interior of Mexico.
The Interior Removal Initiative (IRI) pilot builds on MIRP by opening participation to Mexican nationals throughout the United States. Under IRI, participation is not voluntary. Any Mexican national who is apprehended by the U.S. Border Patrol and U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) may be subject to participate in the program following a medical screening and an interview with the Mexican consular officials. Those who meet the criteria are flown via charter aircraft to Mexico City, where they are provided bus tickets to their final destinations in the Mexican interior.