by Victor Lopez
MARFA--The Alien Transfer and Exit Program is designed to help bring down the number of illegal immigrants that come into the U.S. with the help of smugglers.
Starting November 1st, busloads of them will be crossing through the Marfa Sector on their way back home.
"They are actually not being deported. These are voluntary returns," Chief Patrol Agent for the Marfa Sector, John J. Smietana, said.
They're hitting the smugglers where it hurts the most, aking away those that pay them to get into the U.S.
According to Smietana, "We're removing them from the smugglers that operate in and around Nogales and Douglas and the Tucson Sector area. That's the idea. We try to remove the alien that's being smuggled from the alien smuggling organization."
But, if they're coming from as far away as Tucson, Arizona or San Diego, California, both border towns, why use Presido as a drop off point?
Smietana explained, "There's no infrastructure here. If they cross into Presidio, they've got to get from there, to where they were going. That smuggling infrastructure does not exist on this side, like it does in Arizona."
All are males, 20 to 60 years old and have been checked for health and criminal history. The bus will take them as far as the border, then, Mexican authorities take over.
According to Asst. Patrol Chief Victor Velasquez, "What we have been told by our contacts in the Government of Mexico, at all levels, is they do have a temporary shelter to house these individuals temporarily. Their primary goal is to remove them from the local border area and get them back to their place of orgin."
Just to give you an idea of how many illegal immigrants we're talking about, two buses, Greyhound size buses, will be making their way from Tucson, Arizona to the Port of Entry in Presidio, carrying a total of 94 illegal immigrants, per day, back to Mexico.
Since they are being sent home of their own free will, the hope is, they will stay there.
But, Smietana said, if they choose to try to come back again, there are consequences, "If a person comes back and we catch them, after multiple entries, they are set up for either formal removal or prosecution. There are stiffer penalties, if you will, everytime a person comes back, which is also a deterrent."
Agents are doing anything they can to make sure these immigrants either stay put or cross the right way.