The number of illegal aliens who are choosing to voluntarily deport themselves has spiked since President Donald Trump entered the White House.
Illegal immigrants who were granted voluntary departure — also known as “self deportation” — increased by 50 percent in 2017, according to information compiled by The Marshall Project. In fiscal year 2018, the number of aliens who asked an immigration court to leave the country on their own accord doubled from the previous fiscal year. Applications in 2018, in fact, reached a seven-year high.
The rising number of self-deportations far outpaces the 17 percent growth in overall U.S. immigration cases, indicating that a higher percentage of illegal migrants are opting to leave rather than face government-coerced deportation.
There are incentives for illegals who choose to voluntarily leave. Instead of being held in a detention center for an indefinite amount of time or undergo a strenuous courtroom battle, undocumented immigrants can simply return to their home country. Additionally, migrants who don’t have a deportation on their record are not required to wait years to apply for a U.S. visa to re-enter the country.
For a growing number of illegals who are detained, self-deportation appears to be the best option.
“They’re tired of living in here, of dealing with ICE, dealing with guards, dealing with the injustice. … They give up,” said Alejandra Garcia Zamarron, a 32-year-old Mexican national who had been living in the U.S. illegally for nearly two decades until she was caught driving with an unregistered vehicle and lied to a police officer about her identity.
Zamarron chose to leave voluntarily rather than face the consequences of deportation. Zamarron, who spoke to the Marshall Project about her story, claimed her former inmates at a detention center are increasingly choosing her route of self-deportation.
“They’d rather be deported than fight for their case,” she stated. “We’re not criminals. We just don’t have options.”
The numbers are viewed as a win for the Trump administration, which has made immigration reform and enforcement a top priority. The White House, for example, is preparing new rules that would make it easier to deport otherwise law-abiding migrants who are dependent on public benefits. The White House will soon begin training Border Patrol agents to perform and decide asylum cases on the spot, which will likely speed up deportation efforts.
The uptick in enforcement comes as the U.S.-Mexico border is witnessing record levels of illegal immigration. In April, a total of 109,144 migrants were either apprehended or turned away at the U.S. southern border, marking the second month in a row where encounters topped 100,000. The apprehension levels last month were highest in over a decade.
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