Over 300 repatriated Indians reached Delhi airport earlier on Friday on a specially arranged non-scheduled flight by Mexican immigration authorities for illegally entering the country.

The Indians had allegedly illegally reached Mexico over the last few months to enter the United States with the help of international agents.

The Instituto Nacional de Migración (INM) or National Institute of Migration of Mexico said in a statement the 311 illegal migrants from India were put on a chartered flight from Toluca international airport on Wednesday night.

The chartered flight Boeing 747-400 touched down at Indira Gandhi International Airport on Friday morning. All the Indians had been issued Emergency Certificates- a one-way travel document that allows an Indian citizen to enter India in an emergency. Such papers are issued to individuals, who lose, damage, or have no valid passports.

They were accompanied by more than 60 security escorts.

This was the first such action taken by Mexico since it enhanced efforts to crack down on people using its territory to sneak into the US. Mexico had agreed to boost up security on the border and expand its policy of taking back migrants.

“This was carried out, thanks to the excellent communication and coordination with the Embassy of that Asian country, with which the recognition and return of these citizens was worked, under strict adherence to the Migration Law and its Regulations,” the National Migration Institute (INM) had said in a statement on Wednesday.

Of the deported 311 Indians, 310 were men and one woman. The Indians had been caught over a period of weeks and months in the Mexican states of Oaxaca, Baja California, Veracruz, Chiapas, Sonora, Mexico City, Durango and Tabasco.

A repatriated Indian identified as Gaurav Kumar told news agency ANI that their agent sent them through forests.

“Our agent sent us through forests. We walked through forests for about two weeks and then we were deported from Mexico. Only Indians were deported while people from Sri Lanka, Nepal and Cameroon are still there. I had sold agricultural land and gold and paid a sum of Rs 18 lakhs to the agent,” he claimed.

The United States was the first to react to the development.

The unprecedented repatriation of the Indian nationals is a “strong message to human smugglers”, Mark Morgan, the acting Commissioner of US Customs and Border Protection, said in a tweet.

He said through the unprecedented repatriation of 311 Indian nationals to India, Mexico was showing its commitment to secure borders and orderly, legal migration.

The move comes after US President Donald Trump in June threatened tariffs on all Mexican imports if the country did not put a check on people entering America through Mexico’s borders.

(With agency inputs)