The United States has begun deporting some Mexican citizens who tried to immigrate to the country illegally to their homeland, often to cities hundreds of kilometers from the mutual border. This is a return to a practice that President Joe Biden’s administration stopped two years ago. According to sources in The New York Times (NYT), repatriation flights will now continue regularly.
The first of the restored flights took place this Tuesday and headed to the city of Morelia, located in the state of Michoacán in central Mexico. There were more than a hundred people on board who illegally crossed the American border.
U.S. authorities typically deport migrants by land routes, usually landing them not far from the United States. However, the number of illegal migrants coming from Mexico has increased significantly in recent months – for example, border guards detained nearly 60,000 Mexican citizens in December – and the Americans have therefore decided to resort to more forceful ways to discourage people from traveling north.
The wave of violence that hit Mexico in connection with the upcoming presidential elections, which are scheduled for next year, is apparently responsible for the increasing migration. “Mexicans are starting to see security as a major issue in the presidential campaign,” Andrew Rudman, director of the Mexico Institute at the Woodrow Wilson Center in Washington, outlined the possible motivation for migrants to the NYT. “So I suspect a lot of people don’t feel safe where they live,” he said.
Deportation flights heading deep into the Mexican interior were not reintroduced simply to deter migrants from illegally entering US soil. For a long time, the Mexican government itself has been urging them, which promises that through them, its citizens will be returned closer to their homes, which will relieve the overloaded border towns and, in addition, access to job opportunities and reintegration services will be easier for unsuccessful migrants.
The air repatriation system was originally introduced when Barack Obama was in the White House. His government struck a deportation deal with Mexico in 2012, when Mexicans made up a significantly larger percentage of newly arrived illegal migrants than they have in recent years. According to John Sandweg, who served as director of U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement at the time, repatriation flights greatly reduce the likelihood that someone will try to cross the border illegally again.