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August 22, 2008

ICE's Failed Self-Deportation Pilot Program

Immigration and Customs Enforcement is going to let the "Scheduled Departure" pilot program die today after it managed to remove only 8 out of the 457,000 illegal immigrants it was directed at.

"Quite frankly, I think this proves the only method that works is enforcement," Jim Hayes, acting director of ICE's detention and removal operations, told The Associated Press on Thursday.

ICE said it hatched the plan to give illegal immigrants under court order to leave more control over their departure and to calm criticism by immigrant advocates that its enforcement efforts were disruptive to families.

"They want amnesty, they want open borders, and they want a more vulnerable America," Hayes said.

While immigrant rights activists ridiculed the program, they're now worried its failure will embolden enforcement.

I wouldn't get too worried. 450,000+ illegals with outstanding removal orders? It sounds like some folks are slipping through the cracks.

Scheduled Departure is a nice idea. It gives an illegal who already has a removal order up to 90 days to put his or her life in order, say goodbye to the kids, and report to ICE for shipment. In other words, it is a post-removal version of Voluntary Departure. The alternatives are to be arrested and removed immediately after the last hearing or to wait for the sounds of ICE agents shuffling their feet on your front porch.

But it's not an idea that works because at this point in the process illegals have little to lose from making ICE drag them kicking and screaming out of the country. They already have removal orders and they're already barred from legal reentry (that is, with a proper visa). The "nice idea" of getting to chose which day you are pulled right out of your life doesn't stack up favorably with the fact that you are getting pulled right out of your life. I wouldn't take that deal either.

Still, the pilot program wasn't completely worthless. ICE got to pretend to care, the program flopped, and now it can move on to what it really wants to do: hard-line removal spree!

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posted by Gabriel Malor at 12:32 PM

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