Federal immigration officials have quietly backed away from a program in Western states aimed at quickly and efficiently deporting illegal immigrants rather than keeping them in costly detention centers, reports the Arizona Republic. Tens of thousands of illegal immigrants have been deported under the program over the past several years. Called stipulated removal, it allows the government to deport illegal immigrants held in detention centers quickly if they forgo a hearing to review their legal rights and to determine if they want to fight their case. The phaseout follows controversies and concerns. Immigration officials hailed cost-effective deportations for people who wanted to go home. Critics worried that the government was strong-arming immigrants to accept deportation without regard for their due-process rights.
Immigration officials changed course last year after a federal appellate court ruled that an immigrant held in a detention center had his rights violated. After that, speedy removals were offered only to illegal immigrants with lawyers, who could help them fight their cases. Lawyers are not provided at taxpayer expense in deportation proceedings. Since then, immigration officials have not deported a single illegal immigrant through the program in Arizona.