Sep 11, 2012
APNewsBreak: US halts Mexico flights for migrants
AP: ELLIOT SPAGAT | September 11, 2012 02:30 AM EST |
TUCSON, Ariz. — The U.S. government has halted flights home for Mexicans caught entering the country illegally in the deadly summer heat of Arizona's deserts, a money-saving move that follows a seven-year experiment that cost taxpayers nearly $100 million.
More than 125,000 passengers were flown deep into Mexico for free since 2004 in an effort that initially met with skepticism from Mexican government officials and migrants, but was gradually embraced as a way to help people back on their feet and save lives.
The Border Patrol hailed it as a way to discourage people from trying their luck again, and it appears to have kept many away – at least for a short time.
But with Border Patrol arrests at 40-year lows and fresh evidence suggesting more people may be heading south of the border than north, officials struggled to fill the planes and found costs more difficult to justify. Flights carrying up to 146 people were cut to once from twice daily last year.
And this summer, there haven't been any.
The U.S. Department of Homeland Security, which includes the Border Patrol, said Monday that it anticipates flights will resume next month in a redesigned program.
A U.S. official who spoke on condition of anonymity because an agreement has not been reached said flights in the redesigned program would be for Mexicans arrested throughout the United States and run year-round. It would be designed for a mix of Mexicans who committed crimes in the United States and non-criminals. Read more.