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Voluntarily Departure Under Safeguards – What’s the point?

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)). 

For these reasons, we often advise my clients to not request voluntarily departure under safeguards.  First, the cost of the ticket alone is prohibitive.  Second, it can take longer to actually be allowed to depart the country then if a client requests a simple order of removal.  Third, most individuals who take voluntarily departure are barred from reentering the country based on the fact that they have often fallen out of status or have no status and thus there is no real benefit to voluntarily departure under safeguards.
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.


  1. These polititions who own and run these facilities or services provided to these facilities should all be investigated in the same manner that 3rd World Dictators are investigated and treated. What a shame for such a blessed country.


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