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Immigration agency scraps self-deport program

August 22, 2008 |  8:47 am

The federal government's trial self-deport program for illegal immigrants in the United States is being scrapped due to a lack of interest, according to an Associated Press report this morning.

The program was launched at the beginning of the month and offered noncriminal illegal immigrants with final deportation orders to surrender rather than face possible arrest and detention. As we reported on Aug. 6, after its first trial week, "Scheduled Departure" had only attracted one applicant.

The Associated Press says this morning that after the full three-week trial, only eight people came forward for voluntary repatriation:

"The bottom line is it is not effective," Jim Hayes, acting director of ICE's detention and removal operations, said.

"Quite frankly, I think this proves the only method that works is enforcement."

Hayes said other tactics have proved more effective. ICE has been tracking down so-called immigration fugitives by knocking on their doors at home, often during predawn hours.

ICE offered the program to 457,000 illegal immigrants nationwide who have ignored judicial orders to leave the country but have no criminal record. Applicants could sign up at ICE offices in Charlotte, N.C., Chicago, Phoenix, San Diego and Santa Ana."

To read the rest of the report on the abandonment of "Scheduled Departure" click here.

For more on immigration, click here.

-- Deborah Bonello in Mexico City

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