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ICE seeks to fine some undocumented immigrants potentially thousands of dollars

Posted at 8:56 AM, Jul 03, 2019

Immigration and Customs Enforcement is issuing notices of fines for potentially thousands of dollars to undocumented immigrants who have failed to comply with deportation orders, according to the agency.

ICE began issuing notices of its intent to fine migrants last December following President Donald Trump's executive order, issued a year earlier, instructing the agency to begin collecting fines from migrants unlawfully in the US.

"ICE is committed to using various enforcement methods -- including arrest; detention; technological monitoring; and financial penalties -- to enforce US immigration law and maintain the integrity of legal orders issued by judges," said ICE spokesperson Matthew Bourke in a statement.

The Washington Post first reported the threat of fines on Tuesday.

In one instance, an undocumented immigrant who has been living in sanctuary at a Columbus, Ohio, church for more than a year has received a letter from ICE notifying her that it intends to fine her nearly half a million dollars for staying in the US illegally over several years and failing to follow orders to leave the country, her attorney said Tuesday.

Edith Espinal, a Mexican national who has been fighting her deportation case in rder to stay with her family, received a "notice of intention to fine" from ICE for $497,777. Her attorney Lizbeth Mateo made the notice public.

In the three-page letter -- dated June 25, 2019, and posted on Twitter by Mateo -- ICE states that a final administrative removal order was issued in October 2016 against Espinal. The letter indicates she failed to depart the US as "previously agreed" during an appointment with ICE, and that she removed her GPS tracking device.

The letter, which concludes that "it is the intention of ICE to order you pay a fine in the amount of $497,777," signed by an ICE Enforcement Program Manager.

A former ICE official told CNN that notices such as the one sent to Espinal are part of ongoing efforts to address the population of migrants who have been ordered removed from the US but have not left the country.

"But there's implications to that. You take somebody into custody, and then you fine them, you know, a couple of thousand dollars. These are not big companies, these are people, individuals," said the official.

According to ICE, migrants who fail to voluntarily depart the US are subject to a $3,000 fine, unless an immigration judge sets a different amount.

Migrants who do not comply with a final order of deportation from an immigration judge are subject to a fine of no more than $799 per day.

The number of fines issued by the agency was not available, according to ICE. Many are pending appeal and the agency has not been able to confirm receipt of others.