Daniel González
The Arizona Republic
October 26, 2009

[efoods]The United States government flew 10,560 illegal immigrants back to Mexico during a 36-day period this summer, under a program aimed at reducing migrant deaths and disrupting smuggling organizations in the Arizona desert.

The repatriation program, run by Immigration and Customs Enforcement, this year averaged a record 293 people a day, but returned fewer overall than previous years.

Last year, the government flew 18,464 people, or about 264 a day, to Mexico City during the 70 days the program was run.

Homeland Security officials attributed the success of the voluntary program to cooperation with the Mexican government. Mexico does not help pay for the program, which this year cost $6 million, but the Mexican Consulate in Nogales provided personnel to help the Border Patrol interview illegal immigrants to identify volunteers for the program.

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