Security conditions have become so dangerous in northern Mexican border towns that U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) has begun flying deportees to Mexico City rather than releasing them at or near the border.
With a growing number of reports that deportees are being targeted by smuggling gangs and kidnappers, ICE is operating twice-a-week flights to the Mexican capital.
Officials want to see if flying people to locations hundreds of miles from the border could reduce the likelihood they will try to illegally return to the United States, the Washington Post reports
As part of its arrangement with ICE, the Mexican government gives deportees a bus ticket from Mexico City to anywhere else in the country — so long as it is not a border state.
"We're trying to reduce attempted re-entry into the United States and minimize the potential for exploitation of people who are removed to Mexico and their loss of life," said Tim Robbins, the ICE official who coordinates the flight program, called the Interior Repatriation Initiative.
The great majority of the 300,000 Mexicans repatriated annually during the Obama administration will continue to enter Mexico through border crossings in cities like Ciudad Juarez, Tijuana, and Nuevo Laredo.
"They are often sent back in large groups and sometimes dropped off at night, when few services are available and gangs rule the streets," according to the Post.
"Kidnappers know that deportees have relatives and family members in the U.S. who can be extorted," said Jorge Durand, an immigration expert at Mexico’s Guadalajara University. "It used to be that crossing into the United States was dangerous..Now, it’s coming back, too.”
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