An immigration enforcement organization is making the argument – again – that if the federal government would stop accommodating illegal immigrants, many will go home on their own.
Recently two DACA recipients, sisters Alex and Daniela Velez, told CNN they are prepared to move back to their native Ecuador on their own terms rather than wait to be deported. "If DACA ends, I will leave .... I will leave America as soon as possible," one of them is quoted saying. "I want to be able to leave on my terms. I'm not going to be waiting for anyone to come for me."
The Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) program, which was initiated under the Obama administration, has been at the center of a highly partisan immigration debate on Capitol Hill for months.
Ira Mehlman is a spokesman for Federation for American Immigration Reform. He says his organization has discussed for some time the idea that illegal aliens would decide to return home voluntarily if they cannot benefit from remaining in the U.S. illegally.
"We don't really have to deport everybody who's in the country illegally. In fact, illegal aliens tend to be extremely rational people," he explains. "They come here in large numbers because they believe that they will benefit by coming to the United States illegally; that they will be able to work in the United States, in spite of the fact that the law says that they can't; [and] that they will be protected by sanctuary jurisdictions."
Mehlman contends that when such benefits start to be removed, people get discouraged and decide to go home on their own.
"We're never going to have zero illegal immigration," he acknowledges, "but a very, very significant part of the illegal alien population could be convinced that there really is no point in staying in the United States and violating our laws."
Mehlman says federal and state officials have to demonstrate the resolve and the political will to enforce current immigration laws in a way that sends that signal.