Little to “RESPECT” in DHS’s New Repatriation Agreements

CENTER FOR IMMIGRATION STUDIES — The Department of Homeland Security (DHS) issued a press release this week announcing the signing of a series of repatriation agreements with the government of Mexico. According to the press release, they were created as the result of meetings by the U.S.-Mexico “Repatriation Strategy and Policy Executive Coordination Team (RESPECT)”.

The nine local agreements provide for the mechanisms by which the United States can deport, or remove under the less-formal means of voluntary departure, Mexican nationals back to their country.

The press release ends this way: “DHS, in close collaboration with our Government of Mexico partners, is also publicly releasing the base text of the arrangements. ‘The public release of the arrangement is indicative of U.S. Customs and Border Protection’s, and the Department of Homeland Security’s, commitment to transparency and accountability,’ said CBP Acting Executive Assistant Commissioner Woody Lee. … Repatriation agreements can be found here.”

I find such an assertion exceedingly strange. The public interest in bilateral agreements covering so important a subject as illegal immigration and removal — which has formed a significant portion of the dialogue surrounding the ongoing presidential campaign — so outweighs any vague security or law enforcement concern that an attempt to withhold it under one or another of the exemptions found in the Freedom of Information Act would almost certainly have led to a lawsuit, the result of which would have been ignominious defeat for administration attempts to drop the cone of silence over the agreements.

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