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Immigration Agency Scraps Self-Deportation Program, Vows More Enforcement

Audio

Aired 4/19/09

Federal officials say raids are better for arresting illegal immigrants who've ignored deportation orders than inviting people to surrender. Federal officials will not continue their three-week pilot program that tried to entice illegal immigrants to turn themselves in. KPBS Reporter Amy Isackson has the story.

Just eight people took federal officials up on the invitation that expires today (Friday). That's less than one one thousandth of those who are eligible.

Just one Mexican woman surrendered in San Diego.

Jim Hayes is with Immigration and Customs Enforcement.

Despite the results, he does not consider the program a failure.

Jim Hayes: This wasn't something we had high hopes for in being the answer to fugitive operations. Evidence shows that the most effective way is to do it through the way we traditionally operate conducting targeted enforcement operations at residences, business.

Federal officials say they launched the pilot program, in part, to appease immigrants rights activists who complained about raids.

Hayes says he's discouraged by those groups negative reaction to it.

Critics said from the start it was like a bad comedy sketch to think illegal immigrants would surrender.

During the pilot progam, federal officials continued raids and arrested 1300 people.

Amy Isackson, KPBS news.

 

 

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