According to an article on chicagotribune.com: “Flying worldwide from O’Hare and 22 other airports, the so-called ICE Air planes transported more than 367,000 illegal immigrants, including 11,500 from the Chicago area, out of the U.S. from October 2007 to October 2008a 26 percent increase over the previous fiscal year and 77 percent more than in 2006.”
At least one aitline is flying full. I recently saw a story on CNN about undocumented day laborers who were unable to find work in this economy and one of them who was interviewed said he wanted to return to his country but could not afford the fare.
Rather than spend untold millions of our taxpayer dollars on raids, scare tactics and detaining the undocumented, this might be a good time for the U.S. to offer to transport, at no cost, those who want to depart the U.S. to their home countries. ICE tried something like this last year but the agency: (1) was not guarateeing that they would pay for the return fare, (2) was not offering the option to aliens with certain criminal records, (3) was requiring paperwork that probably amounted to an admission of some sort, and (4) there was still work available for these individuals in the U.S., which is why many of them risked their lives to come here in the first place.
That plan failed miserably because of these details and because as they say, timing is everything. Jobs are no longer readily available, so the incentive to be here no longer exists gor many of these workers. Some sort of “Departure Forgiveness Program” wherein those who choose to leave would be given a one-way ticket, not be detained, and would not have a bar to legal entry in the future, would probably garner some interest.