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Mexico Launches Repatriation Program to Help Deported Migrants

Audio

Aired 4/19/09

Mexico launched a pilot program today in Tijuana to help Mexican migrants who are deported from the United States. The program is called Human Repatriation and guarantees food, shelter and temporary jobs to deportees. KPBS Reporter Amy Isackson has the story.

The United States deported more than 230,000 people last year. Another 60,000 have been deported so far this year.The majority of these deportees are Mexican.

U.S. officials drop them at the border.  Many cross back into Mexico with only the clothes they're wearing. Some don't speak Spanish because they crossed to the United States when they were so young.

Until now, deportees have largely been left to fend for themselves with the help of a handful of non-profit organizations.

At the press conference to announce the new Humane Repatriation program at the San Diego Tijuana border crossing, Baja California Governor Jose Guadalupe Osuna Millan said the topic of migration is near and dear to him.

Osuna Millan says he's lived it himself. He and his brothers came north to Tijuana 36 years ago in search of a better future. He says he watched his two brothers cross illegally into the United States while he stayed in Tijuana and worked in a factory.

Osuna Millan says, and today, in the words of Mexico's President, the new repatriation program guarantees that people who are deported from the United States to Mexico will be treated with respect.

Under the new program, deportees will be put up at a shelter for 15 days. They'll receive food, medical care and a temporary job, if they want it. Immigration officials will also help people contact their families in Mexico and cover the cost of a ticket home. They would not say how much the program will cost.

The program will be rolled out next in Nogales and then other border cities.

 

Amy Isackson, KPBS News.

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