Sunday, August 24, 2008

The honor system didn't work

Why am I not surprised that this didn't work.

If it had why we could've gotten rid of most police officers as well. Just offer criminals the opportunity to turn themselves in. You know DWI offenders, theives, robbers, rapists and all the rest. Speeders too!

Reduce the size of law enforcement, that's the ticket! Well not really because the speeders will, you know, just turn themselves in.

Self-deport program is scrapped
Hernán Rozemberg - Express-News

With eight down and 456,992 to go, immigration agents called it quits.

The Department of Homeland Security on Friday scrapped “Operation Scheduled Departure,” a program to encourage immigrants with deportation orders and with no criminal records to come out of the shadows and self-deport, after only eight migrants came forward.

U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement, the DHS agency managing the program, confirmed that eight people signed up in the two-and-a-half weeks since it was rolled out Aug. 5 — out of 457,000 eligible candidates across the country and almost 30,000 in the five test cities. None were in Texas.

Despite the dismal turnout, ICE officials said they weren't disappointed, noting they didn't have high expectations for the program and that it proved to be a good learning tool.

The agency's top lesson: going soft gets a zero.
Jim Hayes, in charge of detention and deportation for ICE, said he was “extremely disappointed” with the closed-minded manner with which immigrants and their advocates reacted to the idea, never willing to give it a chance.

It's ironic, he noted, since the agency tried the program in the first place at the urging of advocacy and community groups who pleaded for an alternative to ongoing large-scale raids. People who signed up would be given three months to take care of their affairs before leaving.
“We're going to enforce immigration law whether it's convenient for people or not,” said Hayes, who refused to name the groups that asked for its implementation. “Obviously, certain groups have shown they don't want our laws enforced, as mandated by Congress.”

Advocates said they weren't surprised by the government's spin. Some said they never thought ICE truly wanted to make the program work, but rather wanted to use it as a façade to show that offering a carrot doesn't work and the only solution is to keep using the stick.
Joshua Hoyt, executive director of the Illinois Coalition for Immigrant and Refugee Rights said the agency knew the program would never work because thousands of unauthorized immigrants have already settled down — paying taxes, owning homes and cars, raising families — and wouldn't simply pack up and go.
“ICE should spend its time finding and deporting human and drug traffickers and leave working immigrants alone,” said Hoyt, based in Chicago — where two people, an Indian couple, turned themselves in.

The rest of the program participants included an immigrant from Estonia, two Guatemalans and one each from El Salvador, Lebanon and Mexico. They signed up in the five designated pilot locations: Phoenix, Chicago, Charlotte, N.C., San Diego and Santa Ana, Calif.
Another advocate admitted that he and his colleagues could have used better language when criticizing the program, but the point still stands: The government's immigration policy has dramatically strayed since the White House failed to push Congress to overhaul the current system.

“Maybe we've been a bit flippant with our comments,” said Doug Rivlin, spokesman for the Washington-based National Immigration Forum. “But all this has been a distraction from the real issue — we need enforceable laws that make sense to our modern economy.”
Voluntarily or not, fugitive illegal immigrants have their days counted, said Hayes, noting that regular fugitive round-ups continued during Operation Scheduled Departure.

He said 1,300 immigrants on the run were picked up at the same time as the self-deport program was being tried out, bringing the total to more than 29,000 so far this fiscal year. With a month to go, this year's number will likely top last year's 30,000 total.
Plus, added Hayes, the 95 teams set up across the country — each with eight agents tasked solely with tracking down fugitive immigrants — will grow to 104 by next month thanks to its $218 million budget.

Though the self-deport program was nixed, Hayes insisted it that it was not a failure.
It was even financially beneficial, he said. The eight takers saved the government the $54,000 it would have cost to detain them, more than offsetting the program's $41,000 price tag.
That's not counting the 136 calls that the agency received though a hotline set up for the program, Hayes said.