Gage Skidmore via Flickr
Donald Trump speaks on immigration policy in 2016 at the Phoenix Convention Center.
As the administration of President Donald Trump prepares to carry out immigration sweeps in 10 cities this weekend, National Public Radio reports
that the Department of Homeland Security is also issuing notices to undocumented immigrants saying they are subject to fines, some up to $500,000.
Ingrid Encalada Latorre, an undocumented immigrant in sanctuary at a Boulder church, was one of those issued a fine.
“After 3 years of no word from them they send me this letter with only 30 days to pay and it’s a lot of money for me," she said in an emailed statement via American Friends Service Committee Denver, an advocacy organization. "Really I will not get any benefit from this money, not a work permit or residency. What they want to do with these letters is to intimidate us and scare us."
The Immigration and Nationality Act includes a provision passed in 1996 that allows the government to fine any migrant who "willfully fails or refuses" to comply with an order to leave the country, up to $500 per day (now adjusted to $799 for inflation). However, the provision has not been enforced in this manner by other administrations, according to media reports.
After receiving a notice of intention to fine (NIF), the immigrant "has 30 days to respond, and is granted procedural rights to establish a defense if they believe a fine should not be imposed," reads an emailed statement from an Immigration and Customs Enforcement spokesperson.
An ICE [Enforcement and Removal Operations] Supervisor will review all possible evidence to determine if a NIF was properly issued, and will make a final decision – in coordination with the local Field Office Director – that may be appealed with the Board of Immigration Appeals.
If the alien fails to respond to the NIF, or exhaust all procedural avenues without being granted any relief, then the penalty becomes a unappealable order, and will be assessed as a formal debt to the government.
The total number of people fined was not available from Immigration and Customs Enforcement.
As for the immigration sweeps, Trump has said that they would begin after the July 4 holiday if Congress did not make changes to asylum law:
Media outlets have reported that those sweeps will target recently arrived migrants in 10 U.S. cities.
When asked whether Denver would be affected, ICE spokesperson Alethea Smock emailed this response:
"ICE does not conduct raids. ICE performs daily, targeted immigration enforcement operations, which maintain the integrity of U.S. immigration laws, and also help improve public safety by removing criminal aliens from local communities.
"ICE deportation officers carry out targeted enforcement operations daily nationwide as part of the agency’s ongoing efforts to protect the nation, uphold public safety, and protect the integrity of our immigration laws and border controls. These operations involve existing and established Fugitive Operations Teams
that according to ICE data, deportations increased about 13 percent between fiscal years 2017 and 2018, when 256,085 people were deported. In 2012, Barack Obama's administration deported more than 400,000 people.