According to media reports, the number of illegal aliens in the United States who are choosing to voluntarily deport themselves is on the rise. This uptick in self-deportation began when President Donald J. Trump took office and has continued to increase, according to The Marshall Project. The number of illegal immigrants granted so-called “voluntary departure” increased by 50 percent in 2017. The number of immigrants asking the courts for authorization to leave the U.S. of their own free will doubled in the fiscal year 2018, which is the highest level seen in seven years.
The growing quantity of voluntary departures outpaces the 17 percent uptick in U.S. immigration cases overall. This is a strong indicator that a greater number of illegal immigrants are choosing to leave the country of their own accord as opposed to facing deportation by ICE.
Those who choose voluntary departure do not face detention for what can be a lengthy time period prior to deportation, nor do they undergo an arduous courtroom fight. They are simply allowed to leave. As an added benefit, immigrants who do not have a history of deportation indicated on their records do not face the lengthy timeframe required for getting a visa in the future in order to gain re-entry into the United States.
Such was the case of 32-year-old Alejandra Garcia Zamarron, a Mexican national who lived in the U.S. illegally for nearly 20 years before she was stopped by police while driving an unregistered vehicle. Zamarron lied to the police about her identity and found herself facing detention and eventual deportation. She chose voluntary departure instead, and she says many former inmates at the detention center where she was held are doing the same. “They’re tired of living in here, of dealing with ICE, dealing with guards, dealing with the injustice…They give up,” Zamarron told The Marshall Project.
The voluntary departure phenomenon comes at a time when more people than ever before are being apprehended while trying to cross the U.S. southern border. March and April of 2018 were both record months for ICE in the number of detainees held at the border—both months saw more than 100,000 souls apprehended. April’s apprehension levels were the highest in more than 10 years, with 109,144 migrants either apprehended by ICE or turned away.
The current administration in Washington views the escalating number of self-deportations as a win in its mission to enforce and reform current immigration laws. New rules are being created to make deportation paths easier for migrants who receive public benefits and plans are underway for border agents to have the authority to decide on asylum cases “on the spot.”
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