A United Nations agency, with funding from the U.S. State Department, is transporting thousands of immigrants from the U.S.-Mexico border back to Central America in a program that has drawn the ire of migrant legal advocates. The advocates question whether migrants fully understand their rights when they accept free plane and bus tickets home.
The program was in full swing Tuesday in this border city opposite El Paso, where 63 Honduran migrants boarded two buses chartered by the U.N.’s International Organization for Migration, which has transported more than 2,200 Central American migrants home from Juarez and Tijuana so far this year, a spokesman said.
The $1.65-million program, called Assisted Voluntary Return, is funded by the State Department through next month, when it’s expected to expand east to the border cities of Nuevo Laredo and Matamoros.
“We’ll continue as long as there is a need and people are seeking assistance returning home,” said Christopher Gascon, chief of mission in Mexico for the IOM, known there as OIM.
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