Jun 4, 2010 7:37 AM
TUCSON - Mexican officials met with I.C.E. and Border Patrol Thursday to discuss the Mexican Interior Repatriation Program or MIRP.
The annual program flies thousands of Mexican nationals back to Mexico City.
Thursday was the second flight of the seventh year for the program. The Mexican nationals, if eligible, can volunteer to take the flight back to Mexico City. Criminal illegal immigrants convicted of violent crimes are ineligible.
The price tag for the operation is around $18-million. But officials said Thursday it is worth the cost to save lives and diminish the flow of illegal immigrants across the border.
"From where we started to where we are at today, greater cooperation and greater dialogue and at the end of the day, I think there's no question both countries agree that we need to do this to save lives," said Deputy Assistant Secretary of the U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement Alonzo Pena.
"By returning them back to Mexico City, is that we don't feed them back into that same cycle," Chief Victor Manjarrez said of Border Patrol.
Flights will run twice a day until September 28th. In the past six years, they have flown more than 93,000 migrants back to Mexico.