On Sunday, Julie Myers, director of U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement, announced a new program called “Operation Scheduled Departure”. Under this program, immigrants with no criminal record can opt to self-deport by turning themselves over to immigration authorities. This would allow them to be quickly processed and deported without being detained by ICE in the United States.
Though the program has not offically been launched, it is already being widely criticized. Not only does it seem ridiculously far-fetched that undocumented immigrants would willingly self-deport after risking everything to work and live in the United States, but it is further proof of the current administration’s inability to approach the immigratino debate outside of the lens of deportation.
“This sounds like a policy straight out of a ‘Saturday Night Live’ skit, not a serious proposal,” said Frank Sharry, Executive Director of America’s Voice. “The idea that millions of people are going to knock on the government’s door and asked to be deported is pure fantasy. This is not a solution; this is mass deportation on the cheap, and it just won’t work.”
“If our government is serious about fixing our country’s broken immigration system, it must move beyond its single-minded focus on creating new deportation policies,” said Meg McCarthy, director of the National Immigrant Justice Center. “By creating new programs like Operation Scheduled Departure, ICE does nothing more than separate families, harm communities, erode due process, and in the worst cases, subject men, women, and children to danger in their native countries. It is time that Congress steps up and takes reponsibility by passing laws that restore fairness and humanity to our immigration system.”
Deportation, even if it is “self-deportation” is not going to fix our immigration system. Neither will a border wall. Neither will the increased xenophobia and hate crimes aimed at the immigrant population. Our government must step outside of this enforcement/deportation paradigm and begin to think about a truly comprehensive approach to immigration policy.
In the mean time, how many immigrants do you think will line up to “self-deport”?