The US Border Patrol will no longer send illegal immigrants back to Mexico aboard aircraft. The federal government has deported nearly 125,000 illegal immigrants by way of jetliner since 2004.
The program is being ditched because of its massive costs, which has led to nearly $100 million in taxpayer dollars being spent on deportation flights. According to the agency, the program is being removed because too few illegal immigrants are being arrested to make the flights cost effective.
A Border Patrol officer explains to the Associated Press:
“Everything comes down to dollars and cents. We’re running into a more budget-conscious society.”
With more illegal immigrants heading to Mexico than entering the US, the Border Patrol is seeing its lowest arrest and deportation records in 40 years.
The program, which was an exclusive effort by the state of Arizona, had aimed to fly illegal immigrants far enough into Mexico that they did not bother to attempt a cross country voyage in order to brave the deadly dessert heat and make their way back into the United States.
Border Patrol officials say the program could one day return, although they give no definitive time frame. In the meantime, approximately 70 people per day are being bused to a Tuscon court where they face potential imprisonment or a bus ride back into their own country.
The flights have operated only in the summer and only in Arizona and were largely used to help immigrants who would have died trying to trek back through the blistering head of the dessert sun.