Since Trump took office, ICE has been more aggressive in its pursuit of illegal immigrants without criminal backgrounds. More families have been split apart. More immigrants face lengthy detentions. And more people have taken extreme measures in the face of deportation.
The administration’s policies have led to a steep rise in the number of applications for voluntary removal. However, voluntary removal is most often a last resort, so you should be sure you fully understand how it works.
Pros and cons of voluntary removal
It is important to note that “removal” means the same thing as “deportation,” so choosing to pursue voluntary removal is the same thing as choosing to deport yourself.
- You get a short time to prepare for your departure. Most people get 120 days to leave.
- You can shorten your detention.
- You do not have to find your way from the border. You can schedule your departure to bring you close to your home or destination.
- If you choose voluntary removal, you give up your right to fight your deportation.
- Voluntary removal can be expensive. You may need to pay thousands of dollars for your ticket.
- You may have to wait 3 to 10 years to reenter the country.
- You do not get any guarantees that you can reenter in the future.
Seek legal counsel before pursuing voluntary removal
Voluntary removal is meant as a last resort for detainees already facing the threat of deportation. Even the U.S. Department of Justice recommends that detainees should fight their cases if they qualify for a removal defense such as:
- Cancellation of removal
- Petition through a family member
Voluntary removal comes with serious consequences, so you should review your case with a lawyer before you act.