Wednesday, August 6, 2008

ICE launches voluntary deportation program for illegal immigrants

Wednesday, August 06, 2008

ICE launches voluntary deportation program for illegal immigrants
Deirdre Jurand
at 10:00 AM ET

[JURIST] US Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) [official website] launched a new program [fact sheet; press release] Tuesday that allows certain illegal immigrants to coordinate their removal from the US with ICE without the risk of home raids, arrest or detention. The Scheduled Departure Program, a pilot program that will run through August 22 in five major cities [program overview], is designed for illegal immigrants without criminal records who have ignored official removal orders. According to the ICE press release:
The agency recognizes there are those less inclined to accept the intentions of such a compassionately conceived enforcement initiative, but remains committed to providing sensible alternatives that balance the welfare of the individuals and families in question with its clear obligation to uphold the law.

The Scheduled Departure Program will not alter a participant's immigration status or provide any immigration benefit. The program is not a form of voluntary departure or voluntary return. Participants will continue to have a final order of removal, deportation or exclusion.
ICE stressed that illegal immigrants without formal removal orders, those with criminal records and those who pose a threat to national security would not qualify for the program and would be detained, but said [program brochure, PDF] that participation by those who qualified would ease the transition process and the impact on the immigrants' families. ICE also began an ad campaign in the five participating cities, but critics have said the program will be ineffective because eligible immigrants will not voluntarily surrender. AP has more.

ICE maintains a number of additional initiatives [fact sheet] to combat illegal immigration. In May, 270 illegal immigrants arrested during an ICE-led raid at an Agriprocessors Inc. [corporate website] meatpacking plant in Iowa were each sentenced to five months in prison [JURIST report] and 27 more received probation after pleading guilty to the use of false immigration documents. ICE also carried out a raid in California the same month targeting 495 people who had ignored deportation orders, resulting in the arrest of more than 900 illegal immigrants [ICE press release]. In general, US immigration prosecutions continued to increase in March 2008, jumping nearly 50 percent from the previous month and nearly 75 percent from the previous year, according to a report [text; press release] released by the Transactional Records Access Clearinghouse (TRAC) [official website] at Syracuse University. TRAC attributed the increase to Operation Streamline [Washington Post backgrounder], a joint federal program under which federal prosecutors levy minor charges against illegal immigrants crossing the US-Mexico border. | © JURIST
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Immigration: The 'Please Deport Me' Plan Falls Flat on First Day
By Jackie Mahendra, Illinois Coalition for Immigrant and Refugee Rights
August 6, 2008
 
In the past few months, both DHS (the Department of Homeland Security) and ICE (Immigration, Customs and Enforcement) have come under fire for the dozens upon dozens of unaccounted-for deaths in immigrant detention. This was followed by outrage over ratcheted-up enforcement operations that have spawned the largest, and perhaps most unjust, workplace raids in US history.
 
The response?
 
Instead of making strides to repair an ailing immigration system, or ensuring humane detention conditions for those in DHS custody, ICE has introduced a plan so absurd, even its die-hard fans are stumped.
 
ICE to immigrants: 'Please Deport Yourselves.'
 
In an honor akin to hosting the next Olympics, Chicago was selected to be one of five pilot cities for the 'Please Deport Me Plan.' 'Operation Scheduled Departure,' as ICE calls it, targets undocumented immigrants with no criminal record, whom ICE believes might be convinced to deport themselves. Spanish, English, and Polish-language ads will run in ethnic news outlets throughout the city to let undocumented immigrants know about this exciting new option at their fingertips. While today marked the first full day of the new program, (surprise, surprise) not a single immigrant volunteered for deportation.
 
The incentive to 'self-deport'?
 
The wish to avoid traumatic separation from family, dying in a privately-traded detention facility, or having to give birth shackled, which have become the crowning achievements of our failure to pass humane immigration reform under this administration's watch.
 
A bad joke?
 
'This kind of claptrap idea is not a smart way to deal with immigration,' said Joshua Hoyt, the Illinois Coalition for Immigrant and Refugee Rights' Executive Director. 'This is a publicity stunt by ICE to put a happy face to the brutal actions that have broken many families apart.' We need real, honest, solutions that work, not to waste time focusing on undocumented immigrants with no criminal record.
 
In ICE's defense, it is a smart move to try to end the shameful raids and detentions that over 1,000 protestors rallied in Postville, Iowa, to denounce last month. The injustice of the Postville raid, which ravaged the tiny Iowa town and short-circuited an ongoing labor violations case against the raided Plant, will not soon be forgotten. The 66-and-counting immigrant men and women who have died in immigrant detention continue to haunt a sick and ailing system.
 
ICE is right to think that more and bigger raids and prisons are not the answer. They are wrong, however, to think that immigrant men and women who have risked everything to struggle to make a life for their families here will just pack up and leave because they were targeted by an ad in the paper.
 
They are also wrong if they think that bogus offers like these will even temporarily provide relief for our dysfunctional immigration system. While they may seek to distract people from the real problems we face, these types of 'solutions' speak for themselves: they show just how dangerously out-of-touch these agencies have become, even with so much at stake.

1 comment:

zeezil said...

Arrest, incarceration, DEPORTATION...si se puede!!!