One of the signal, continuing failures of U.S. immigration policy has been the practice of returning illegal aliens to just the other side of the U.S.-Mexican border when they are forced to leave the United States, rather than sending them deep into Mexico where most of them live.
Finding themselves thousands of miles from home, and probably broke, many of the once-captured illegals decide to try to enter the United States again and, of course, many succeed.
Mexico, historically, has blocked involuntary deportations (and other forced exits) to the interior for understandable reasons. If an unemployed Mexican wants to seek work in the United States, more power to him, or so went the unacknowledged official thinking in the past.
U.S.-funded, interior flights for illegals caught in the Arizona desert in the summertime have been going on for years, but these short-term programs, always narrowly defined, have been for volunteers only. The rationale was that lives would be saved if the once-apprehended aliens were given a choice between a free (and safe) flight home and another attempt to enter the United States in the often-killing desert heat.
The recent good news — largely hidden from sight — is that the lame-duck Mexican administration of the PAN party permitted an experimental round of U.S.-funded flights of involuntary passengers, from El Paso, Texas, to Mexico City.
According to an all-too-brief Associated Press story, the program consisted of 18 flights, and returned 2,364 illegals to Mexico, nearly 2,000 of whom had U.S. criminal convictions. (All but three of those sent back were males.)
That such a large proportion of the deportees had criminal records suggests that the arrangement had been made with that population in mind.
The AP story described the program as ending a few days before December 5 after being in effect for two months. That means it started and ended during the period after the July 1 election of a PRI party president and before he took office. It was thus something arranged by the outgoing PAN party presidency.
The news account ended this way: "Two days before leaving office last week, then-Mexican Foreign Secretary Patricia Espinosa said Mexico's new administration would work with the United States government on whether to continue."
Let's hope so, but in the meantime it sounds like a significant parting gift to the United States from the retiring PAN President Felipe Calderon -- a characterization that is mine, and not the AP's.