You Can Go Home Again—Why there's no need for "safe departure" border checkpoints for illegal immigrants.Posted Thursday, July 29, 2010, at 4:20 PM ET
Fox News, the Christian Science Monitor, and Yahoo, among other news outlets, carried a story Wednesday on a movement to promote "safe departure" for illegal immigrants. The concept, put forward by Americans for Legal Immigration, is to establish special border checkpoints for illegal immigrants who are voluntarily leaving Arizona, so they can do so "freely" and "without fear of being detained." Do illegal immigrants really run the risk of being detained when they leave the United States?
No. Whether you're a citizen, a resident alien, or an illegal immigrant, you're free to leave the country so long as there's no warrant out for your arrest. The United States doesn't require exit visas or have a comprehensive exit-control system, and southbound travelers are more likely to encounter Mexican customs agents than American law enforcement officers. According to Department of Homeland Security data, as many as 100,000 undocumented workers have left Arizona in the past two years, either to return home or try out other states. Although Americans for Legal Immigration promotes "safe departure" checkpoints as a way to eliminate "desert crossings, [or] paying money to the cartels for passage south," such risks aren't necessary. Migrants can simply use public transportation, as detailed in this CNN story about an illegal immigrant from Guatemala who boarded a bus with a one-way ticket, paid for by the Guatemalan consulate.[More]
Of course they're missing one point—the government could arrest people they know to have entered illegally, and if they could prove illegal entry, or working illegally, then they could charge the illegals with the relevant Federal crimes. They just choose not to.