The misnamed U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) has ended a program used in Fiscal Year 2010 to temporarily increase the number of removals in an effort to appear to be deporting illegal aliens.
Arizona Central November 6, 2011
Federal immigration officials have quietly backed away from a program in Arizona and other Western states aimed at quickly and efficiently deporting illegal immigrants rather than keeping them in costly detention centers.
Tens of thousands of illegal immigrants, including thousands from Arizona, have been deported under the program over the past several years. Called stipulated removal, it allows the government to quickly deport illegal immigrants held in detention centers as long as they forgo a hearing before a judge to review their legal rights and to determine if they want to fight their case.
Immigration officials hailed the program as 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 in September 2010 after a federal appellate court ruled that an immigrant held in an Eloy 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, said Vincent Picard, a spokesman for ICE in Phoenix. Picard could not provide statistics for other states...
Supporters of stipulated removal, which remains in effect in other parts of the country, say it benefits both the government and illegal immigrants. The program can save time and money.
The illegal immigrant is typically deported within a day or two. In comparison, an illegal immigrant facing deportation can spend weeks or even months in detention. In 2011, the average time was 29 days, according to ICE statistics.
The average daily cost of detention in 2011 was $112.83, said Virginia Kice, an ICE spokeswoman.
"Such agreements between ICE and the alien are advantageous to the government in that it relieves the immigration court of the need to have a hearing, saves ICE additional detention costs, and allows the alien to return to his/her country expeditiously," Picard said in an e-mail.
Stipulated removal saved the government millions, but that was not good enough for ICE, because it had other priorities. Make removal as expensive as possible, remove as few aliens as possible, grant amnesty to as many illegal aliens as possible.