Latest News

ICE wants illegal immigrants to ‘self-deport'

Officials at the U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement said Thursday that Charlotte will be one of a handful of U.S. cities involved in a “self-deport” pilot program to encourage some illegal immigrants to turn themselves in or risk being sought at home, arrested and jailed.

The self-deport program will be held for 18 days, between Aug. 5 and Aug. 22. During that time, non-violent illegal immigrants, who have been previously ordered to leave the country, will be given the chance to turn themselves to immigration officials and schedule their departure. ICE spokeswoman Barbara Gonzalez said people who take advantage of the program will get up to 90 days to pull together money and make arrangements with other family members to return to their home countries.

“We've done this because there have been a lot of people from the community who have contacted us asking for a way to present themselves to schedule their departure instead of being arrested at home or worksite,” she said. “…The benefit is that they won't be put into detention.”

Charlotte is one of handful of cities, including Santa Ana, Chicago and Phoenix, that have been selected for the pilot program. It could apply to an estimated 500,000 illegal immigrant fugitives, officials said.

Franco Ordonez: 704-358-6180

Related stories from Charlotte Observer