Since 2008, the United States has had a policy known as the Alien Transfer Exit Program (ATEP), or Lateral Repatriation. This program focuses on detaining male migrants of Mexican descent.
Here’s how it works: Once an immigrant is caught attempting to cross the border without documentation, they are detained, flown or bused across the United States and then shown the exit at another segment of the U.S.-Mexico border–thousands of miles from their original point of entry.
The Los Angeles Times described a typical use of Lateral Repatriation in a story about Luis Montes. The Times noted:
Montes was put on a plane, flown halfway across the country and bused to the California-Mexico border. At 2 a.m. Tuesday, U.S. border authorities took off his handcuffs and escorted him to a gate leading to the desert city of Mexicali. Montes was back in Mexico, but about 1,200 miles away from where he started.
Sparingly used upon inception, the Obama administration drastically increased the use of ATEP in 2011, responding to a perceived increase in attempts at immigration into the United States by Mexican nationals.
But immigrants’ rights activists had long cautioned that Lateral Repatriation breaks up families. The reason is fairly simple: many male Mexican nationals who are detained trying to cross the border often come with their families in tow. When ATEP is used, the men are captured and taken thousands of miles away, while their wives, partners and children are placed in immigrant detention centers.
And where was the outrage back then? More to the point, if this so horrifies Democrats, then why has such a law been in place for so long, and why aren’t they willing to fix it now? Could it be that they prefer using this as a political tool to actually addressing the problem?