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May 8, 2019
“Voluntary” Departures on the Rise
The Trump administration’s crackdown on immigrants and use of prolonged detention is leading more and more people to volunteer to leave the country - a choice available to some detainees who lack criminal convictions and a way to avoid having a deportation order on record.
The number of immigrants who have applied for voluntary departure has soared since the election of Donald Trump, according to new Justice Department data obtained by The Marshall Project. In fiscal year 2018, the number of applications doubled from the previous fiscal year—rising much faster than the 17 percent increase in overall immigration cases, according to data from the Transactional Records Access Clearinghouse at Syracuse University. The numbers show yet another way the Trump administration’s crackdown on immigration is having an effect: More people are considering leaving the U.S., rather than being stuck in detention or taking on a lengthy legal battle with little hope of success. Last year, voluntary departure applications reached a seven-year high of 29,818….
….An application for voluntary departure has to be approved by an immigration judge. The number of requests granted increased 50 percent in fiscal year 2017, according to data from the Justice Department. Because not every case is resolved during the year it is filed, and judges can grant voluntary departure without a formal application, the annual total of voluntary departures has exceeded the number of applications.
Voluntary departure is obviously a bit of a misnomer - someone facing a prolonged detention and legal battle, is not really a “volunteer.”
People who are being held in detention often have no idea when they will get out, or under what circumstances. The process can be very isolating - indeed, it is supposed to be, in part to encourage folk to agree to voluntary departure. It can be a huge lifeline to someone incarcerated to have visitors - a reminder that they are not alone.
Visitation programs exist around the country. Not every facility has one - indeed, there have been increasing restrictions. But many do. Freedom for Immigrants coordinates much of this work. Check their page and the list of visitation programs below, and see if there is one near you!
FIND A VISITATION PROGRAM IN YOUR STATE
ALABAMA ARIZONA CALIFORNIA COLORADO FLORIDA
GEORGIA ILLINOIS KANSAS LOUISIANA
MARYLAND/WASHINGTON D.C. MASSACHUSETTS
MICHIGAN MINNESOTA NEBRASKA NEW HAMPSHIRE
NEW JERSEY NEW MEXICO NEW YORK
OHIO PENNSYLVANIA TEXAS WASHINGTON WISCONSIN
In 1942, when the U.S. government began the process of forcibly removing Japanese and Japanese-Americans from their homes throughout the west coast and incarcerating them in concentration camps, the language employed by the government and the media covering government actions masked the true nature of what was happening. In an interesting blog post from last week, the editors at Densho argue that it is time to put those euphemisms to rest.
...Today, we can recognize the euphemistic language used by government officials and military leaders during WWII as deceptive — for one particularly egregious example, look to the Puyallup Assembly Center, or, as it was dubbed in 1942, “Camp Harmony.” But the textbooks and major news outlets where many Americans hear this story for the first time have yet to update their terminology accordingly, perpetuating that deception. Words matter—not just for the sake of accuracy, but for a future free from the kind of violations and violence that demand euphemisms in the first place. To avoid repeating the mistakes of our past, we must be able to see them clearly.
Read the full post here.