According to the Associated Press:  “A pilot program allowing illegal immigrants to surrender to authorities and have more control over their deportation has been dubbed a failure.”

A grand total of eight undocumented aliens participated in ICE’s Scheduled Departure program.  The program allowed eligible undocumented aliens to turn themselves over to ICE and have their paperwork processed, some would have their return transportation paid for.

Given that our Congress was unable to pass Comprehensive Immigration Reform, and that the heavy-handed mass enforcement on the part of ICE has been a knee-jerk reaction to the vocal anti-immigrant minority, it is understandable why ICE would try to do something to make the removal process less burdensome for both the agency and the aliens. 

Some estimate that there are as many as 20 million undocumented persons in the U.S., aggressive enforcement combined with those who simply choose to leave because of our economy or out of fear of being detained in this environment would likely be only a small percentage of this number.  Moreover, it is unrealistic to think that more aliens are not either sneaking into the U.S. looking for work or overstaying and working without authorization while others are being deported.  At this pace, with this enforcement-only approach, it will take many, many generations before we take control of this issue if at all.  

The answer to these problems is an immigration policy that works.  One that invites those who want to work and contribute to society without taking jobs from Americans to do so and focuses on keeping terrorists and criminals out.  Arresting thousands of meat-packers, dishwashers and laborers is simply not working.  Just like the Sceduled Departure program, we tried it, and it failed.  Time to move on and do something that actually has a chance of succeeeding.  As I have written before, declaring a speed limit of 20 miles per hour on I-95 would result in many of us becoming “illegal drivers”, our immigration laws need to be updated to reflect what is in the best interest of our economy, our humanity and the country as a whole.

Hopefully this failed program will not lead to even more aggressive mass raids where Due Process rights are violated and those detained are often treated like cattle, separated from their familes and denied adequate legal representation or urgent medical care…we’re a better country than that.   

Author: Bradley Maged

I'm Brad Maged, an immigration lawyer in Boston, Massachusetts. I help people who want to live and work in the United States and companies that wish to employ them. This blog provides opinion and information on developments in immigration law. Thanks for reading!

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