Friday, August 1, 2008

ICE Program To Allow Fugitive Aliens To Leave Voluntarily

U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) announced last week the launch of a pilot program, "Scheduled Departure," which allow fugitive aliens who have no criminal history and pose no threat to the community an opportunity to remain out of custody while they coordinate their departure from the U.S. with ICE. The program effectively permits aliens with deportation orders to surrender to ICE officials if they agree to leave the U.S. within 90 days. The program will allow these individuals to remain at liberty pending their departure, although some may be required to wear monitoring ankle "bracelets."

Initially, the Scheduled Departure Program will run from Aug 5th to Aug 22nd and may be expanded as ICE continues to evaluate the pilot. Non-criminal fugitive aliens who live in or around Santa Ana, Calif., San Diego, Phoenix, Chicago and Charlotte can visit their local ICE Offices to discuss their departure plans. Aliens who have not previously been detained by immigration officials or who have criminal records, or are determined to be a danger to the community are not eligible for this program and may be arrested and taken into custody if they report to ICE.

There are approximately 572,000 ICE fugitives in the United States, including 457,000 who do not have criminal histories. An ICE fugitive is defined as an alien who has failed to depart the United States based upon a final order of removal, deportation, or exclusion from a U.S. immigration judge, or who has failed to report to ICE after receiving notice to do so. Only non-criminal fugitive aliens are eligible for the program and will be screened by an ICE officer when reporting to verify status.

The Scheduled Departure Program will not alter a participant's immigration status or provide any immigration benefit. The program is not a form of voluntary departure or voluntary return. Participants will continue to have a final order of removal, deportation or exclusion.

As of this writing, exactly one alien has surrendered under this program.

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