This week, U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement started offering illegal immigrants the opportunity to turn themselves in and negotiate their own deportation. Some immigrant advocates say the new program is simply a PR stunt, while officials say the aim is to help reduce trauma to families.
"There is a human aspect," says Raymond Simonse, at the agency's field office in Charlotte, N.C.
Charlotte is one of five cities that are piloting the Scheduled Departure program.
Simonse tells NPR's Madeleine Brand that the program provides illegal immigrants with "an opportunity to surrender themselves ... so that they don't have to spend time in a detention facility."
Benefits include leaving at their convenience and avoiding arrest in front of their children, he says.