This week, my boss Charles Kuck blogged about voluntary departure at Stewart Detention Center and how judges there routinely grant a form of relief euphemistically called “Voluntary Departure Under Safeguards.” He noted that the immigration statutes allow for “Voluntary Departure,” which is basically time for a foreign national to wrap up their affairs in the US, sell property and then leave voluntarily, without an order of removal. The invented “voluntary departure under safeguards”, however, requires detained individuals to buy their own ticket and then NOT be released from custody to do any of the thing that voluntarily departure was designed to do. Furthermore, these individuals are forced to buy exorbitantly expensive open-ended tickets to leave the country, while individuals who opt for a simple order of removal are able to leave the country free of charge.
Adding insult to injury, individuals who request voluntarily departure under safeguards and purchase the pricey tickets are often not allowed to timely voluntarily depart under their purchased tickets and are held for many days, and in some cases, even weeks after the tickets have been purchased. By way of example, we recently had a case where the client requested voluntarily departure under safeguards, purchased the expensive ticket, asked to leave immediately and, two months later, is still detained at Stewart Detention Center (run by the Corrections Corporation of America (CCA)).
As with so many things that happen at Stewart Detention Center, it appears that the only winner in voluntarily departure under safeguard cases is CCA, who profits from each additional day that an individual is detained.