U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) directed immigration officers to bypass immigration courts and deportation hearings in an all-out effort to surpass the agency's tally of deportations last year. Reportedly, immigration officers prompted eligible foreign nationals to accept a quick pass to their countries without a negative mark on their immigration record, according to a Washington Post report
Known in the agency jargon as "voluntary return," the option may have allowed hundreds of immigrants to exit the country — without a stopoff in front of an immigration judge.
Significantly, such a voluntary return doesn't bar a foreigner from again applying for legal residence or travel to the United States.
All-in-all in reaching the record 392,862 deportations, ICE included more than 19,000 immigrants who had exited the previous fiscal year and also gained stats from operating a Mexican repatriation program five weeks longer.
This latter repatriation initiative alone allowed ICE to tally at least 6,500 exits that, without the program, would normally have been credited to the U.S. Border Patrol.
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