A pilot program allowing illegal immigrants to surrender to authorities and have more control over their deportation has failed, reports the Associated Press. U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement is ending its “Scheduled Departure” program when the three-week trial concludes today. Only eight people participated. “Quite frankly, I think this proves the only method that works is enforcement,” said Jim Hayes, acting director of ICE’s detention and removal operations.
Immigrant advocates said the program flopped because it offered few incentives for illegal immigrants to step forward and they would be barred from returning to the country for as long as a decade. They also said it failed to consider immigrants’ ties to family here. ICE offered the program to 457,000 illegal immigrants nationwide who have ignored judicial orders to leave the country but have no criminal record. They were promised up to 90 days to plan their exit and coordinate travel with relatives. Applicants could sign up in Charlotte, Chicago, Phoenix, San Diego and Santa Ana, Ca. ICE estimates 30,000 eligible immigrants lived in the five cities.