Immigration attorneys are in an uproar because U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement is levying fines on illegal aliens who have deportation orders.
A more reasonable reaction: Why wasn’t this tried years ago?
Roughly a half-million illegal aliens in the U.S. had outstanding deportation orders in 2018 and were classified as fugitives, according to ICE. The Immigration and Nationality Act grants ICE the authority to impose civil fines on illegally present aliens who have been ordered removed or failed to voluntarily depart.
One headline-grabbing ICE notice went to a fugitive holed up in a “sanctuary church” in Ohio. The June 25 letter informed Edith Espinal Moreno of the agency’s intention to fine her $497,777. An immigration judge had ordered Espinal, 42, removed from the country two years ago.
Rosa Ortez Cruz — another church-dwelling, fugitive — received a notice that ICE intends to fine her $314,007 for having “connived or conspired” to avoid deportation.
Immigration attorneys and their dodgy clients could afford to wait out the government before President Donald Trump entered office. “Most were spared deportation under the Obama administration because they had U.S.-born children or no criminal records,” the Washington Post observed.
Now, with fines running as much as $800 per day, the cost of flouting deportation orders is getting serious. Federal authorities started assessing penalties in December, and ICE is right to use every legal tool at its disposal.
In theory, monetary threats are an incentive for illegally present aliens to clear out of the country. Yet it’s unclear how the administration will enforce collection from elusive, no-account migrants. ICE has not disclosed if any fines have actually been paid.
Noting indigent cases like Espinal and Ortez, we wouldn’t be shocked to see more than a few demand letters bouncing back to ICE, stamped “Return to Sender.”
Still, the primary and ultimate goal remains: to finally remove those 500,000 deportable fugitives, whether they pay a fine or not.
To that point, President Trump announced this week that the ICE enforcement action initially scheduled for last month to target up to 2,000 illegal alien households in 10 major cities will begin over the Fourth of July holiday.