The Department of Homeland Security’s Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) announced a new “voluntary” deportation program last week called “Scheduled Departure.” According to a press release on the ICE website, “aliens and families [will] benefit from coordinated removals.”
The press release continues:
“This program addresses concerns raised by aliens, community groups, and immigration attorneys who say ICE unnecessarily disrupts families while enforcing the law,” said Julie L. Myers, Homeland Security Assistant Secretary for ICE. “By participating in the Scheduled Departure Program, those who have had their day in court and have been ordered to leave the country have an opportunity to comply with the law and gain control of how their families are affected by their removal.”
Immigration lawyers are skeptical of the new program.
“It’s a non-idea,” said Crystal Williams, deputy director for programs with the American Immigration Lawyers Association. “If people want to leave, they can leave. They don’t need to go to ICE to do it. And if they don’t want to do it, they’re not going to turn themselves into ICE.” (Congressional Quarterly, August 5, 2008)
MCC encourages attempts to make immigration policy both fair and supportive of strong families, but this pilot program seems unlikely to either of those goals. It doesn’t address late-night and workplace raids that occur before trial, and it doesn’t provide immigrants any incentives (such as reduced penalties) to come forward.