August 22, 2008 in Nation/World

Few takers for self-deportation

By AMY TAXIN Associated Press

SANTA ANA, Calif. – The federal government will scrap a program for illegal immigrants to turn themselves in for deportation after only eight people volunteered during a nearly three-week trial, an official said Thursday.

U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement offered the pilot program in five cities, giving illegal immigrants facing court orders to leave the country 90 days to plan their departure and coordinate travel with relatives instead of facing the prospect of being arrested, detained and deported.

ICE will end its “Scheduled Departure” program when the trial period concludes today, Jim Hayes, acting director of ICE’s detention and removal operations, told the Associated Press.

“The bottom line is it is not effective,” Hayes said. “Quite frankly, I think this proves the only method that works is enforcement.”

The initiative drew skepticism, even ridicule, from many immigration activists who have criticized ICE’s increasing raids on homes and businesses.

Hayes said lack of support from those activists shows they are unwilling to accept any enforcement.

“They want amnesty, they want open borders, and they want a more vulnerable America,” he said.

Hayes said other tactics have proven more effective.

The agency has been tracking down so-called immigration “fugitives” by knocking on their doors at home, often during pre-dawn hours.

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