TUCSON, Ariz. - U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) announced Thursday that 23,384 Mexican citizens agreed to voluntarily return to their hometowns in the interior of Mexico by participating in the Mexican Interior Repatriation Program (MIRP).
MIRP is a bilaterally beneficial voluntary program that ensures the safe and swift return of Mexican nationals found unlawfully in the Sonora Arizona desert region of the United States to their places of origin in the Mexican interior. The program is run by ICE, the Mexican Ministry of Foreign Affairs and the Mexican Ministry of the Interior.
The last flight for 2010, carrying 130 people, departed Tucson Tuesday for Mexico City.
"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," said Katrina S. Kane, field office director for ICE's Office of Enforcement and Removal Operations (ERO) in Arizona. "This program prioritizes the humane treatment of detainees throughout the removal process."
MIRP was designed in 2004 as a bilateral effort between the United States and Mexico to reduce the loss of human life and combat organized crime linked to the smuggling, trafficking and exploitation of persons.
Under MIRP, Mexican nationals apprehended in U.S. Border Patrol's Yuma and Tucson Sectors are taken to DHS facilities in Nogales and Yuma, Ariz., where candidates are medically screened, meet with officials from Mexican Consulate and are offered the opportunity to voluntarily participate in the program.
This year's first repatriation flight departed Tucson International Airport on June 1. Of the 23,384 people returned this year 85 percent were men and 15 percent were women. A total of 963 juveniles accompanied by their parents participated in MIRP as well.
More than 116,000 Mexican nationals have been safely returned under MIRP over the program's seven summers of operation.