Friday, August 22, 2008

Rocket Science

Occasionally a news article causes me to scratch my head in bewilderment and then in amazement. This is one of those articles.

The federal ''self-deportation'' pilot program ending Friday has drawn only a handful of illegal immigrants volunteering to return to their home countries, but immigrant-rights advocates who ridiculed the effort now wonder if it will used to justify or even escalate workplace raids.

U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement offered the three-week pilot program in five U.S. cities, giving illegal immigrants facing court orders to leave 90 days to plan their departure and coordinate travel with relatives instead of facing the prospect of being arrested, detained and deported. The program was well publicized but only six people signed up in the first week.

The program theoretically does have at least one positive. I mean, we've seen several news articles in the past month of undocumented workers dying in detention for lack of medical care. For most who have been the subject of court orders, however, that's not really a problem, unless, of course, detention is at Guantanamo Bay.

And there are a whole lot of downsides to the plan. First of all, travel would be at the workers' expense, and many are working at marginal jobs and don't have the documents to board a plane, a train, or a bus to cross the border. Second, many of them have families here in the US now, close family, as in husbands, wives, and children, many of whom are either not subject to a deportation order or who are legally here. Where's the incentive?

Immigration authorities had to have known all of this before making this oh-so-generous offer, so what's the deal?

Try some old-fashioned CYA.

ICE said it hatched the plan to quell criticism of the surge in workplace raids. One supporter of the agency said the low turnout will help insulate federal immigration agents from some of the criticism.

''It was calling their bluff,'' said Ira Mehlman, a spokesman for the Federation for American Immigration Reform.

How cynical is that?

Now, if they were really serious about the whole plan, they would have offered some incentives rather than some disincentives. The feds could have offered some cash to cover the cost of self-deportation. They could have set up a system whereby the deportees could have applied for US work permits based on work history and payroll taxes paid and made those applications immediately available rather than require a ten-year wait. They could have, but that wasn't what this is all about.

What this is all about is countering all the bad press ICE has garnered in the past year. And we can't have that.


Not to mention shameful.

Labels: ,


Blogger shrimplate said...

Who is going to get the presumably lucrative no-bid taxpayer-funded contract to do all this deporting? Has Southwest Airlines donated any large amounts of cash to any Republican PAC's lately?

I should research that, but again, it's that coffee thing.

And by the way, have I sufficiently thanked you folks for the thoughtfulness you put into your writings here lately? Forgive me if I haven't. There's always good stuff here.

9:53 AM  

Post a Comment

<< Home