Deport Yourself, Says ICE

By Guest Columnist Aug 01, 2008

by Joyce Li America is obsessed with itself as a meritocracy – this "bootstraps" notion of congratulatory self-motivation deploys a singular set of morals and ethics that finds its way into (and sometimes provides the basis for) our judicial system, public services, and economy. It’s no myth that this idea accounts little for historical exclusion, subjugation, and exploitation of various groups by the U.S. government. When that meritocracy is projected outward, it becomes dangerous. Last Sunday, Immigration and Customs Enforcement chair Julie L. Myers announced the beginning of "Operation Scheduled Departure:":

in an interview with a Spanish-language television network [Univision], Myers told the network that "Operation Scheduled Departure" will allow illegal immigrants without criminal records a chance to literally "self-deport" by turning themselves in to her agents.

The program offers no incentive beyond avoiding arrest – a fact met with ridicule from immigration advocates. Doug Rivlin of the National Immigration Forum told the Houston Chronicle that the move is "pure fantasy, an attempt to entice people to sign away their rights." ICE expects undocumented folks, whom they have never considered citizens, to act with the moral and ethical mettle of good Americans. Self-deportation is admitting that you’re wrong, and that there’s nothing for you here. Myers claims that the program arose from the laments of various detainees, who say they’d have rather gone home than be held in immigration prisons. ICE says nothing of the terrible conditions many people endure for indefinite periods of time, nor do they comment on U.S. accountability for the various political and economic factors that cause migration. Experts say that this model has worked for another agency – three years ago, the US Marshal Services started "Fugitive Safe Surrender," which gives individuals with arrest warrants for non-violent crimes a chance to turn themselves in. The program has since brought in 16,000 people, many of whom have charges dismissed, or receive new court dates or reduced sentences. However, neither FSS or OSD account for any bias in law enforcement. The truth may set you free, but oppression comes from the top down.