Arizona immigration law prompts Mexico to extend repatriation aid program
In response to the controversial Arizona immigration law, Mexico extended a repatriation program to help ease the transition of illegal migrants back home. The governments says the Arizona law could lead to a flood of returnees when it goes into effect, but most Mexicans are skeptical.
Mexico City and Cartagena, Colombia
In Pictures The scene at the US/Mexico border
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Need medical attention? Need something to eat? The website of the Mexican National Migration Institute illustrates how the voluntary repatriation program works.
But few in Mexico are expecting a flood of new returnees. Last year about 500,000 Mexicans were repatriated from the US, an average annual number, according to National Migration Institute (INM).
While the country is spending some money to ease the transition home for Mexicans who want to return, most with steady jobs in the US are unlikely to sign up for the program.
“There will not be a massive return, unlike what is expected,” says Rodolfo Cruz, a professor in the population studies department at the College of the Northern Border in Tijuana (COLEF). “In Mexico they do not have employment options, and they are well aware of this…It would be much more expensive for them to return [to Mexico]. Because they’ll return, spend money, not find any [work] or find work that does not meet their economic needs and will go once more to the United States.”
The head of Mexico's INM, Cecilia Romero, said that the repatriation program, is being extended this year because of concerns that more Mexicans will be driven out of Arizona. “It is probable that when the [new immigration] law of Arizona goes into effect, repatriations and deportations of Mexicans will go up,” she said recently.
The program will run from June 1 through Sept. 28, during which federal, state, and local authorities will help Mexican migrants, pointing them towards medical attention should they need it and helping them avoid criminal groups who prey on them on the way home.
The new Arizona immigration law directs police to determine immigration status if they are suspicious of criminal activity. Currently, police officers can inquire about a person’s immigration status only if that person is a suspect in another crime.