For illegal aliens, American hospitality just keeps coming.

Mexican citizens boarding this year's final flight at Tucson International Airport/submitted photo

A total of 23, 384 illegal aliens this year were flown home to Mexico’s interior – for free – rather than being unceremoniously and inhumanely deported to grungy border towns.

What a deal.

The free plane rides are part of the Mexican Interior Repatriation Program (MIRP), which made its finale flight from Tucson to Mexico City last week with 130 Mexican citizens on board, according to a news release from U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE).

The release did not note if the passengers also received free blankets and peanuts.

The deal, a joint effort between the U.S. and Mexico started in 2004, is open to Mexican citizens who are nabbed crossing the Sonoran Arizona desert region or other areas of U.S. Border Patrol’s Yuma and Tucson Sectors.

Those apprehended go to the Department of Homeland Security facilities in the Arizona cities of Nogales and Yuma, where they have to be medically screened, meet with officials from the Mexican Consulate and, if they don’t have criminal backgrounds or other problems, offered the free ride home.

Program participants, of course, have to be volunteers. It would be atrocious to fly anyone home for free against his or her will.

One of the program’s goals is humanity.

“MIRP reflects our mutual commitment to strong and effective enforcement of both nations’ immigration laws, and this program is proof that we can do so in a humanitarian way,” the release quotes Katrina S. Kane, field office director for ICE Enforcement and Removal Operations in Arizona. “This program prioritizes the humane treatment of detainees throughout the removal process.”

Running from June to September, the program aims to save lives by discouraging repeat border crossing, at least during the sizzling summer, as well as “combat organized crime linked to the smuggling, trafficking and exploitation of persons.”

If taken far into the bowels of Mexico, former border crossers may be less likely to be sucked back into the coyotes’ webs of lies and deceit. They are also more likely to find jobs, or at least a better quality of life than in the sodden border towns, which is the fate of many deported against their will.

More people than ever are volunteering for this juicy deal, the Arizona Republic reports, with this year’s volunteers double that of last year and larger than any other year’s annual total.

Mexican citizens returned home in 2010 consisted of 85 percent men and 15 percent as well as 963 juveniles – accompanied by their parents to be eligible.

The Mexican Interior Repatriation Program, run by ICE, the Mexican Ministry of Foreign Affairs and the Mexican Ministry of the Interior, sounds like quite a sweet deal – and it better be, based on its price tag.

ICE spokesman Vincent Picard told the Republic the cost of this year’s operation was nearly $15 million.


What do you think?

Is the Mexican Interior Repatriation Program a dandy program or a bunch of hooey?