Mexicans in U.S. Illegally

Will Be Flown Home

The U.S. Department of Homeland Security will start flying illegal Mexican immigrants to their home towns next month as part of a controversial program aimed at reducing illegal immigration.

Homeland Security Undersecretary Asa Hutchinson said yesterday that the United States and Mexico had agreed to a pilot program, through Sept. 30, to repatriate illegal immigrants found in the Arizona-Sonoran Desert region.

"The interior repatriation program is voluntary," Hutchinson told reporters. "Eligible migrants who are apprehended entering the U.S. illegally will be offered the opportunity to return to their home via air or bus transportation."

The first flight is expected to be July 12, after the United States finalizes contracts for air transport. Mexicans who participate will be flown to Mexico City or Guadalajara and then bused to their home towns.

The program was touchy for Mexicans sensitive to U.S. interference in their internal affairs.

But Mexican and U.S. officials agree on the need to boost security along the 2,000-mile border to reduce the number of Mexicans who die each year making the illegal crossing in search of a higher standard of living in the United States.

Justice Says Data

Cannot Be Copied

The Bush administration has denied a request for the Justice Department's database on foreign lobbyists, contending that copying the information would bring down the computer system.

"Implementing such a request risks a crash that cannot be fixed and could result in a major loss of data, which would be devastating," wrote Thomas J. McIntyre of Justice's office for information requests.

Advocates for open government said the government's assertion that it could not copy data from its computers was unprecedented but representative of generally negative responses to Freedom of Information Act requests.

"This was a new one on us. We weren't aware there were databases that could be destroyed just by copying them," Bob Williams of the Center for Public Integrity said yesterday. He said the group expects to appeal the decision.

States Get Reminder

On Education Funds

States are getting a reminder from the federal government: Make plans quickly to spend more than $2 billion in education money or be ready to lose it.

The Education Department has found that all the states, the District and eight territories have high cash balances left from 2002, including money meant for poor children, disabled students and those who speak limited English.

That money must be legally earmarked toward a specific expense by Sept. 30, 27 months after it was released to states.

States then have two years to spend the money. Funds not committed or spent revert to the federal treasury.

-- From News Services