Although polar bears are in danger, the ICE we are referring to here is the Department of Homeland Security’s Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE). In early August, Julie Myers, Assistant Secretary of ICE let slip during an Univision interview that her agency was going to unveil a new program that would allow undocumented immigrants to “self-deport”. As one of the most ridiculous proposals to “fix” our broken immigration system (even worse than “the wall”) nears its final week, we decided to take serious look at the ICE’s pilot program, unfortunately named “Scheduled Departure.” The plan, which seems to have been conceived after one too many shots of tequila at the ICE staff happy hour is being tested in five cities across the country for 3 weeks. Undocumented migrants who have final deportation orders are asked to come into ICE offices and “report to deport”. By reporting to ICE, these individuals will be given a “grace period” of 90 days, and a lo-jack tracking device, so they can get their affairs in order and leave the country in an orderly fashion. As expected, the results are in, and only 6…yes, 6 people of what ICE estimates to be close to 450,000 eligible for the program, have actually showed up to their offices.
Our own Executive Director, Frank Sharry, predicted that this program would not be successful. Even Ira Mehlman, spokesperson of the Federation for American Immigration Reform (FAIR) an anti-immigrant group associated with hate groups and classified as one by the Southern Poverty Law Center agrees with Frank.
ICE, and by extension, the Bush Administration have completely lost the plot when it comes to common sense solutions to our broken immigration system. Did they really think this would work? It sounds like the plot of a Saturday Night Live! skit, and not a serious proposal to solve the problem. We are comforted, all be it slightly, that the Bush Administration and Julie Myers are really scheduled for departure in January.