Trump administration withdraws massive fines imposed on illegal immigrants in shocking reversal of its hardline policy

The US Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) has withdrawn fines ranging from $300,000 to nearly $500,000 for five immigrants living in sanctuaries around the country


                            Trump administration withdraws massive fines imposed on illegal immigrants in shocking reversal of its hardline policy
Donald Trump (Getty Images)

The Donald Trump administration has withdrawn fines worth hundreds of thousands of dollars imposed on some immigrants in the country who have taken refuge in churches.

The National Public Radio (NPR) cited the National Sanctuary Collective saying the US Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) has withdrawn fines ranging from $300,000 to nearly $500,000 for five immigrants living in sanctuaries around the country.

According to the NPR report, Edith Espinal Moreno, who has been living in a church in Ohio over the last couple of years, was told by ICE in June that she owed nearly $500,000 for “failing to depart the US as previously agreed”.

Recently, Moreno received another notification from the ICE that withdrew the fine. “Following consideration of matters you forwarded for ICE review, and in the exercise of its discretion under applicable regulations, ICE hereby withdraws the Notice of Intention to Fine," Lisa Hoechst from ICE wrote in a letter dated October 17.

A mother and her son, originally from Brazil, relax at the El Calvario Methodist Church which is housing migrants who are seeking asylum, after they were released by the U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement on June 3, 2019 in Las Cruces, New Mexico (Photo by Joe Raedle/Getty Images)

The Department of Homeland Security had targeted immigrants a few months earlier by asking them to pay huge fines of up to $500,000 on charges of having failed to exit the US under a previous agreement. ICE said on that occasion that it was issuing the notices since December last year on a case-by-case basis.

The withdrawal of the fines is a surprising reversal on the administration’s behalf since Trump signed an executive order soon after taking office promising to start collecting “all fines and penalties that the Secretary is authorized under the law to assess and collect from aliens unlawfully present in the United States."

While Moreno told NPR that it was a victory for her, ICE officials did not respond immediately. Moreno's lawyer called the fines illegal.

The Trump administration has adopted various mechanisms to shut its borders to immigrants. In September, it decided to reduce the country’s refugee intake program by almost half. Besides, it also keeps the immigrants, including pregnant women and children, stranded at unsafe border locations citing clearance procedure of paperwork, putting their lives in jeopardy.

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