New I.C.E. program gives easier alternative to deportation

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PHOENIX -- Immigration and Customs Enforcement agents are handing out fliers Tuesday to kick off a new program called Operation Scheduled Departure.

ICE wants illegal immigrants to turn selves in

The program targets illegal immigrants who have ignored past deportation orders.

If those people turn themselves in, ICE will give them three months to get their affairs in order and leave the country. Proponents say the program is a good idea because it keeps illegal immigrants from having to go before a judge

Immigration officials hope that the nearly 500,000 illegal immigrants who are eligible will participate in the government program.

Video from NewsChopper 3 showed more than a dozen people lined up outside Mexican Consulate at 19th Avenue and Camelback Road at about 6:30 a.m. Such a line apparently is not unusual, as Mexican nationals go to the consulate for a variety of reasons.

Operation Scheduled Departure is not just a Phoenix program. Chicago, Charlotte, N.C., and Santa Ana and San Diego in California are also taking part in the experiment.