Starting Monday, U.S. Border Patrol plans to ship about 100 undocumented immigrants a day from Arizona back to Mexico through a remote border entry point in Presidio, and Gov. Rick Perry is displeased.
“Turning the Presidio area into a way station for the repatriation of illegal immigrants adds responsibility to local authorities and holds the potential of increasing the strain on local and state infrastructure and resources,” Perry said Saturday.
Perry sent a letter to Department of Homeland Security Secretary Janet Napolitano urging her to stop the Alien Transfer and Exit Program, or ATEP.
Bill Brooks, spokesman for the Border Patrol Marfa Sector, where Presidio is located, said the plan would not create any burden on the local community.
Local officials, including Presidio's mayor and law enforcement, he said, have been consulted about the plan.
“We’ve got plenty of Border Patrol agents,” he said. “It’s our job to interdict people trying enter our country illegally.”
Under the program, undocumented immigrants apprehended in Arizona will be transported to Presidio, then deported to Mexico.
Immigrants who are caught crossing illegally in Arizona and deported, Brooks said, often just come right back.
By shipping them to the remote countryside between Presidio and Ojinaga, Mexico, Border Patrol is hoping to decrease the likelihood of repeat illegal entry.
“It’s difficult to get anywhere if you come across there,” he said.
The plan will bring two buses per day to Texas, each with 74 undocumented immigrants. The immigrants will be checked for health problems and will have signed voluntary deportation agreements. The program will not involve immigrants charged with criminal violations, Brooks said.
Mexican officials are participating and will provide the immigrants with bus tickets to their hometowns, Brooks said.
“Every day we send people across the border down there,” he said. “We don’t have problems with them coming back immediately in this area.”
But Perry said he was worried the plan would result in more illegal immigration to Texas, which already has a large undocumented population.
“Texans will not stand for federal programs burdening our state and communities with the nation’s illegal immigrants,” he wrote.
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