Day 5 on Mass Deportations to Presidio

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Sterry Butcher’s got some more excellent coverage in the Big Bend Sentinel of the mass deportations going on in Presidio. Just about everyone thinks it’s a bad idea to bus 700 men a week to Presidio except for Homeland Security.

Presidio County Judge Jerry Agan a retired Border Patrol Assistant Chief called it “… one of the worst policies I’ve ever seen. It astounds me they would do this. It’s not well thought out.”

The Mexican men ages 20 to 60 are being bused from Tucson, Arizona in order to break up the smuggling cycle in the Sonoran desert region. In this case, DHS has swapped the Sonoran desert for the Chihuahuan desert — that should save some lives.

Because of the remoteness of Presidio and its Mexican sister city Ojinaga, the Mexican government has been trying to dissuade Homeland Security from sending immigrants there.

“Mexican authorities through my embassy in Washington, D.C. have been trying to negotiate,” the Mexican Consul in Presidio Hector Raul Acosta Flores told the Sentinel. “We were not agreeing that repatriation take place through this port of exit due to the conditions of the region on both sides of the border. Nevertheless, they’ve started the program. And we have to coordinate for the benefit of our nationals and provide them with assistance.”

The Mexican government has been providing the immigrants with bus tickets home. The bus company Transportes Chihuahuenses is offering a 50 percent discount for the detainee program.

“Everybody has left from the border,” Acosta reported on Tuesday to the Sentinel. “Up to now, no one has decided to remain behind.”

Probably the scariest thing about Butcher’s article is the statement from Border Patrol that “The program will continue until the smuggling cycle is broken.”  Do they really think this will prevent people from trying to cross?

One big question is how long can the small Mexican Consulate office in Presidio keep up with bus tickets for 700 immigrants a week? It’s only a matter of time before the slow gears of bureaucracy come to a halt, then people are really going to suffer on both sides of the border.

Melissa del Bosque joined The Texas Observer staff in 2008. She specializes in reporting on immigration and the U.S.-Mexico border. Her work has been published in national and international publications including TIME magazine and the Mexico City-based Nexos magazine. Melissa is a 2014-15 Lannan Fellow at The Investigative Fund.