TUCSON, Ariz. – U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) announced today that 8,893 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 2011, carrying 139 people, departed Tucson Wednesday 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 Enforcement and Removal Operations 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 July 11. Of the 8,893 people returned this year, 85 percent were men and 15 percent were women. A total of 328 juveniles accompanied by their parents participated in MIRP as well.
A total of 125,164 Mexican nationals have been safely returned under MIRP over the program's eight summers of operation.