A Fine Strategy? Making Deportable Fugitives Pay



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.

About Author

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Bob Dane, the Federation for American Immigration Reform (FAIR)'s Executive Director, has been with FAIR since 2006. His deep belief is that immigration is the most transformational determinant of where we are heading as a nation and that our policies must be reformed in the public interest. Over many years on thousands of radio, TV and print interviews, Bob has made the case that unless immigration is regulated and sensibly reduced, it will be difficult for America to reduce unemployment, increase wages, improve health care and education and heighten national security. Prior to joining FAIR, Bob spent twenty years in network radio, marketing and communications after an earlier career in policy and budgeting within the Reagan Administration. Bob has a degree from George Mason University in Public Administration and Management.

8 Comments

  1. Pingback: The Democrats’ Positions on Immigration Are Starting to Worry a Lot of Democrats – Dr. Rich Swier

  2. avatar

    Accessing fines does not mean a damn thing. The illegal alien has to have all assets confiscated and the illegal alien deported and finally the assets sold to cover the expenses involved with kicking this invader out of our land. Dependents should not have a claim on the assets. . . . reimbursing the taxpayer for the expenses involved in expelling the invader should have FIRST PRIORITY

  3. avatar

    Still waiting for the ICE raids. Apparently they still haven’t begun. What’s the holdup now Mr. President, unless you got cold feet again.

    • avatar

      Trump Announced Friday They Would Begin Monday

      That “$4.6B Ramada Inn refugee camp was an approved immigration bill”, but it won’t stop the planned Trump ICE raids. Build the WALL!

      We need chain immigration halted immediately.

  4. avatar
    Stephen Russell on

    Charge interest to date when NOT showing in Court etc.
    ID kin to pay?
    Contact kin in home land to pay?
    Shake up Illegal immigration Big time
    OR have said attorneys fund illegals into US

  5. avatar

    CIS said they are also allowed to file criminal charges on them. This would be a much better deterent then a large fine.

  6. avatar

    This would be the perfect chance for the left to put up or shut up. Want border crossers to stay in this country while their asylum claims are heard? Then how about you put up bail for them, say 20,000 a person. Because you say you want nothing more than the chance for them to make a claim and that they will show up for court. Except they don’t show up, not the big majority. So this will never happen because they don’t want to lose the bail money they put up. It’s sort of the same theory of how politicians in California have encouraged illegals to come there for decades, but when Trump said he was going to ship border crossers to sanctuary jurisdictions like California, they said why do we have to bear the burden? Because you said before that all were welcome?

    The Los Angeles Times February 11, 2019 in a story about the second budget shutdown. It reads: “The latest impasse is over beds for detained immigrants”. “The current quota, set by Congress, is 40,250 beds.” “Democrats have proposed reducing the total number of beds to 35,520”.

    The story goes on to say that Democrats were demanding that 16,000 of that number could only be used for illegals who were here for years. So they effectively wanted to reduce the number of beds at the border to around 20,000. This at the time when the number of border crossers had seen huge increases for months.

    And this was all during the “manufactured crisis” rhetoric by Schumer and Pelosi. Now that they can’t deny it is a crisis, it’s Trump’s fault, it’s the border patrol, it’s everybody but us. Schumer of course is the same liar who was one of the main backers in the House for the 1986 amnesty where we got the amnesty but none of the promised border security. The same bill where Ted Kennedy promised that “never again” would another amnesty bill be brought to the floor of the Senate.

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