Illegal Immigrants Hit with $500,000 Fines for Refusing to Leave the Country
Trump Admin issues massive fines as ICE prepares large-scale arrests, deportations
President Donald Trump's administration has begun issuing massive fines to illegal immigrants who are refusing to leave the country, as Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) prepares large-scale nationwide arrests and deportations.
Illegal immigrants are being warned they will be fined nearly a half-million dollars for refusing to leave the U.S. after judges order their deportation.
According to a Tuesday report by National Public Radio, Edith Espinal-Moreno, a Mexican illegal alien living in Ohio, has already received a fine of almost $498k for ignoring an October 2016 "removal order."
Espinal refused to go back to her native country, and instead, sought sanctuary in a supportive Mennonite church the following year.
A letter sent to her lawyer also says she cut off the ankle monitor that was a condition of her bail pending immigration hearings.
The notice from ICE estimates that she will have "to pay a fine in the amount of $497,777," in addition to being deported from the United States.
ICE can impose fines of up to $500 per day on "aliens who have been ordered removed or granted voluntary departure and fail to depart the United States."
That authority was granted as part of the Immigration and Nationality Act, passed in 1965.
According to the Daily Mail, President Trump is planning to order an aggressive series of illegal-immigrant sweeps after the Fourth of July holiday, targeting illegals like Espinel who have defied immigration judges, and show little to no regard for US laws.
Trump signed an executive order in his first week as president that ordered the Homeland Security secretary to "ensure the assessment and collection of all fines and penalties" allowed by law "from aliens unlawfully present in the United States and from those who facilitate their presence in the United States."
Espinal's attorney, Lizbeth Mateo, said she burst into laughter when she read ICE's letter to her client.
"It's almost half a million dollars. Are they for real? Do they really think that she's going to pay this?" Mateo told NPR.
"I laughed because there has to be someone in some basement in D.C. thinking, 'Oh, what else can I do to mess with immigrants? What else can I do to hurt them?'"
The order was signed on June 25 – 972 days after Espinel's final deportation order took effect on October 28, 2016.
She agreed to leave the country 11 months later, according to ICE, but then removed her ankle bracelet and stopped showing up for required meetings with immigration authorities.
Espinel has 30 days to contest ICE's fine warning before it will become final.
She is from Michoacán, Mexico and jumped the Texas border in 2013 with her 15-year-old son Brandow and 34 other people, according to The Columbus Dispatch.
Authorities detained them for less than a day but released them both on parole because of Brandow's age.
Espinal also has two other children, both U.S. citizens because she was on American soil when they were born.
Now 42, she first came to the U.S. as a 16-year-old when her father snuck her in, she told WOSU radio.
Espinal is still waiting in the church, counting on unofficial sanctuary that houses of worship can't legally offer – but which the federal government has yet to violate.
"We’re not criminals," she told the Dispatch six years ago, before crisscrossing back and forth between the U.S. and Mexico.
"We're just people trying to live our lives."