US border patrol chartering flights to eject migrants
Mexican border officials have enormous sway over their US counterparts, resulting in taxpayers paying millions of dollars for charter flights — just to eject people from the country, The Post has learned.
Immigrants from certain countries are subject to immediate expulsion from the US under Title 42, but Mexico wields an extraordinary amount of authority over they actually get kicked out, setting quotas of how many migrants they are willing to take in each area of the border.
“In some cases, it’s sector by sector that have agreements with the Mexican state on the other side of the border — some will only take certain nationalities,” Texas Rep. Tony Gonzales, whose district includes a large part of the border, told The Post.
“It also fluctuates, and this is another part that no one is really talking about.
“This is where the State Department’s role is so critical, and the state department is really missing in action in this whole deal.”
To keep facilities in busy crossings like El Paso from being pushed to the brink — which may lead to people being released into the US simply due to a lack of resources — Border Patrol flies migrants to less busy parts of the border.
On Wednesday, The Post witnessed two planes — one a commercial passenger jet owned by Miami-based World Atlantic Airlines — being loaded with migrants in El Paso, Texas.
Many of the passengers were migrants who had made the journey to the border by foot from countries such as Venezuela, Nicaragua and El Salvador.
Some had likely never even been on a plane before.
One jet was headed to Laredo, Texas, while a second was chartered to Harlingen, Texas, according to public flight records.
Once there, the migrants were to be processed by border guards and then ejected back into Mexico.
Federal officials did not respond to a request from The Post on the cost of such flights, but CBS News has reported the cost of each flight ranges from $20,000 to $60,000.
It’s unknown how many flights have been chartered in total, but sources said multiple flights have been departing West Texas each day since late March to checkpoints across the southwest, making a conservative estimate of the cost in April alone at least $1.2 million.
Migrants from Cuba, Guatemala, Haiti and Honduras are also to be processed then sent back over the border under Title 42.
When this happens, their vital stats are recorded and Customs and Border Protection have a record of how many times a person has attempted to cross the border.
Repeat offenders are deported further — including back to their home countries, according to sources.
Mexican authorities have also been known to flex their muscles.
After a March 27 blaze was started by a Venezuelan migrant who ignited a mattress in his cell in a Ciudad Juarez immigration detention facility, officials requested Venezuelans who had crossed into the US directly north at El Paso not be returned to Juarez.
“They didn’t want to deal with the Venezuelans anymore,” a source who spoke on condition of anonymity told The Post.
“By Sunday after the fire, flights were going out with Venezuelans to Arizona and California.”
The Juarez incident became an international disgrace after an investigation revealed a Mexican immigration official ordered guards not to release migrants who then died locked in smoke-filled cells.
In the days after the fatal inferno, thousands of scared migrants surrendered themselves to Border Patrol, leading to further charter flights to deal with the influx.
In another incident, Mexican officials refused to take Venezuelans from the Border Patrol last October — hours after President Biden announced the US would start expelling Venezuelans under Title 42.
“Border Patrol worked with Mexican authorities to send about 100 folks over, but Mexico sent them right back,” Gonzales shared with The Post at the time.
“They basically said we don’t have the logistics nor the infrastructure to handle these people yet… that was a big fail.”
Adding to the confusion, not all migrants are treated the same on the border.
Despite Biden announcing all citizens of four countries who have been flooding the border would have to apply through an app and have their papers in order before being admitted to the US, shelters in El Paso are stretched to their limits housing people from those countries.
Many said they had just tried their luck and been let across.
“They’re not going to be able to stop [migrant crossings]. They’d have to come up a plan that works for the US, as well as benefits the migrants,” said Venezuelan Maria Angel Jose told The Post.
Making matters worse, Title 42 is set to expire next month, and multiple border sources say they are already bracing for a tidal wave of thousands of people attempting to cross.