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Critics Say New Federal Immigration Program That Urges Self-Deportation Is Farfetched

Audio

Aired 4/19/09

Starting Tuesday, federal officials will invite illegal immigrants in San Diego and four other cities to turn themselves in. Critics say federal officials are delusional if they think anyone is going to surrender. KPBS Reporter Amy Isackson has the story.

Federal officials hope to entice illegal immigrants who've been ordered deported but who are still in the country to surrender. In exchange, officials say immigrants get 90 days to organize their affairs before they're forced to leave the country.

Federal officials say the program allows people to avoid being arrested without warning.

They're also selling it as a way to avoid custody during deportation proceedings.

Officials say they'll monitor people who surrender with periodic check-ins or electronic devices.

Lilia Velzaquez is an immigration attorney in San Diego. She says the program is farfetched and doubts anyone will come forward.

Lilia Velzaquez: I mean, that's suicide. Why would you do that? Nobody in their right mind would say, "Yeah, I think that's a good idea. I am going to help the government deport me. The program, the way that its set up, is misguided.

Velzaquez says deported means deported and people won't earn the government's good will for turning themselves in.

Amy Isackson, KPBS news.

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