A three-week trial program where illegal immigrants could voluntarily leave the country without being arrested has ended with only eight people signing up.
Under the program, Operation Scheduled Departure, which ran from August 5 through Friday, illegal immigrants without criminal records who had been ordered deported could turn themselves in at Immigration and Customs Enforcement offices in Charlotte, N.C., Chicago, Ill., Phoenix, Ariz., San Diego and Santa Ana, Calif., agree to leave the country within 90 days, and in some cases receive assistance in paying for transportation.
Jim Hayes, acting director of the ICE Office of Detention and Removal Operations, said that none of the eight people, an Estonian, two Indians, two Guatemalans, a Lebanese, a Mexican and a Salvadoran, have yet left the country.
Hayes blamed immigration advocacy groups for the low response to the program, saying they urged people not to participate in protest of immigration laws. But the advocacy groups say there was no organized effort to undermine the program and that it was doomed from the start.
“Plenty of us said it was a silly idea and not going to work, that the undocumented may be illegal but they are not stupid,” said Joshua Hoyt, executive director of the Illinois Coalition for Immigrant and Refugee Rights.
Mr. Hoyt suggested that the agency used the program to justify more hard-line tactics.
“A cynic would say they are going to say, ‘See, we tried to be nice,'” he said. “‘We don’t abuse people. Now we’re going to get tough because they didn’t come forward when we tried to be nice, so now we’re going to be mean.'” — New York Times
Don’t be upset at the program’s $41,000 price tag, though. Hayes said it actually saved the $13,000 the government would have spent detaining those eight people. He also made a few other crazy statements, such as suggesting that allowing immigrants to stay in the country would lead to “anarchy.”
Meanwhile, illegal immigrants are leaving on their own in droves, without even waiting for a government raid, because of the faltering economy. When they find it better to leave the U.S. and go elsewhere, you have to stop and take a hard look at where your country is going, and consider whether that’s a direction you really want it to go in.