Tuesday, August 19, 2008

Illegal Immigrants Aren't Stupid

Posted by Jarvis Holliday On 8/19/2008 No comments
Check out this excerpt from a recent Associated Press story.

Just six illegal immigrants volunteered to leave the United States in the first week of a pilot program inviting nearly a half-million people to self-deport, federal officials said.

The U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement program is aimed at more than 450,000 illegal immigrants who have received but ignored court orders to leave the country and who also have no criminal records. It is available in just five cities: Santa Ana, Calif., San Diego, Chicago, Phoenix and Charlotte, N.C.

The six who signed up by Wednesday evening included an Estonian in Phoenix, an Indian husband and wife and a Guatemalan in Chicago, a Salvadoran in Charlotte and a Mexican in San Diego, said Virginia Kice, an ICE spokeswoman in San Diego.

The program offers a less disruptive option than arrest and instant jailing by Immigration agents who track down Immigration fugitives at their homes or workplaces, officials said. It gives those who participate up to three months to wrap up their personal affairs and to know that agents won't be busting into their homes.

Even through there are few takers so far, ICE has registered increased reader activity on its Web site, and the agency also has received "more than a handful" of calls with questions about the program to a telephone hot line, Kice said.

Some callers have asked whether the program will be available in more than the five pilot cities, which include Santa Ana, Calif. "This was a pilot program that we wanted to undertake to see what kind of a response we'd get," Kice said.

It's modeled after an established self-surrender program that the U.S. Marshal's Service uses, Kice said.

ICE has 90 teams nationwide charged with rounding up fugitives who have ignored deportation orders, said ICE spokesman Vincent Picard in Phoenix.

While Picard and Kice said the program will be evaluated once it ends Aug. 22 to decide whether it has any future, critics have snickered at the whole idea.

"I said they must be out of their minds," said Jon Garrido, a Phoenix entrepreneur and online publisher who writes extensively about Hispanic affairs. "Nobody's going to do that."


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