Regrets and defiance aboard government flight that takes illegal immigrants back to Mexico

By Sophia Tareen, AP
Saturday, July 31, 2010

A look inside the government’s deportation flights

CHICAGO — Every day, the federal government gathers hundreds of illegal immigrants and sends them back to Mexico aboard government jets.

An Associated Press reporter was permitted aboard a recent deportation flight that departed from Chicago. The journey offered a rare glimpse into the emotional final hours before immigrants left their American lives for an uncertain future.

For people being deported, the day began at a suburban processing center and ended with a lonely walk across a bridge from Brownsville, Texas, into Mexico. During the trip, security teams stood watch over passengers, who had to wear shackles.

Similar flights leave from some 40 U.S. cities. In the last year, more than 350,000 illegal immigrants have been deported — about 220,000 by plane.

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