The Trump administration said Tuesday it will start deporting about 250 Mexicans a week on flights from Tucson, Arizona, to Guadalajara, over 1,000 miles (1,640 kilometers) from the border.
Mexican migrants have become a high priority for the Trump administration as a report last month shows that the number of Mexican nationals seeking asylum in the U.S. has risen dramatically over the last year, despite Central American migration numbers dropping as a result of Trump’s policies.
Immigration authorities began the repatriation flights to Mexico's interior in mid-December, and according to the Department of Homeland Security, there will be two flights a week with 250 people a flight starting January 24.
DHS spokesperson, Heather Swift said the flights satisfy a longstanding request of the Mexican government and will take people who are deported closer to their hometowns. People from towns closer to the border will not be put on flights, according to the Associated Press.
There was a similar program in place from 2004 to 2012 that flew Mexican migrants who had crossed the Arizona border deep into Mexican cities at the cost of $100 million over its lifespan. At first, the Mexican government had doubts as to the success of the program but ended up embracing it as a way to save lives at a time when thousands of migrants were dying in the desert, reports U.S. News.
The program stopped when the number of migrants began to drop. Under the current administration's policies, migration numbers have steadily declined in recent months, with 32,858 apprehensions at the border in December, down from 114,000 in May.