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Migration Declassified – ICE Deportations: More Flights, Less Rights

July 18, 2013

ICE officials prepare for one of the “repatriation” flights to Mexico City.

In case you missed it, be sure to check out the most recent offering from Migration Declassified, a new Archive project designed to support the rights of migrants in North America by increasing transparency around security and law enforcement institutions in Mexico and the United States.

Earlier this week, we published newly-declassified records on a controversial U.S. program that forces deportees aboard flights to Mexico City. The documents show that in 2012 U.S. and Mexican negotiators clashed over the rights of migrants drawn into the initiative and the U.S. push to make participation compulsory for certain kinds of deportees. Mexico also worried about “appearing ‘complicit’” with U.S. deportation policies and feared that human rights groups would accuse them of forcing “individuals to be repatriated to the interior against their will.”

U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) re-launched the Interior Repatriation Initiative last week, just as temperatures began to peak in the Arizona desert. Unlike previous iterations, where migrants could opt out of the program, participation is now obligatory for those apprehended inside certain sectors and who meet certain criteria. ICE officials also declined to provide information about the cost of the program.

But declassified documents show that in the nine years since the program first got underway what is now being called the Interior Repatriation Initiative (IRI) has proven to be a very costly solution to a vexing policy problem: how to safely deport Mexican migrants without leaving them in the dangerous and inhospitable border zones just inside Mexico.

The U.S. has touted IRI as a more humane approach to deportation that breaks the cycle of recidivism and protects vulnerable migrants from drug gangs, human traffickers, and the harsh northern desert environment. But is a program that forces migrants to relocate to the Mexican capital, often against their will, an appropriate response to these well-founded concerns? And is such a costly program sustainable over the long term?

Read more over at Migration Declassified.

One Comment leave one →
  1. July 18, 2013 1:46 pm

    wow, very interesting and complicated question about how to safely deal with the repatriation issue – and now excited to start following “Migration Declassified.”

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