DHS Announces Rescission of Civil Penalties for Failure-to-Depart

This announcement was posted by the Department of Homeland Security on their website on April 23, 2021:

WASHINGTON – Today, at the direction of Secretary of Homeland Security Alejandro N. Mayorkas, U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) rescinded two delegation orders related to the collection of civil financial penalties for noncitizens who fail to depart the U.S., stating they run counter to the agency’s best interest.

“There is no indication that these penalties promoted compliance with noncitizens’ departure obligations,” said Secretary Mayorkas.  “We can enforce our immigration laws without resorting to ineffective and unnecessary punitive measures.”

After reviewing detailed data regarding the issuance of such fines since 2018, it was clear to Secretary Mayorkas and Acting ICE Director Tae Johnson that the fines were not effective and had not meaningfully advanced the interests of the agency.  ICE intends to work with the Department of Treasury to cancel the existing debts of those who had been fined.

The two delegation orders—ICE Delegation No. 01-2018, Delegation of Authority to Administer and Enforce Provisions Relating to Civil Penalties for Failure to Depart, and ICE Delegation No. 006-2020, Delegation of Authority to Administer Certain Provisions Relating to Civil Penalties for Failure to Depart—delegated to certain ICE officials the authority to administer and enforce certain civil penalties for noncitizens who fail to depart.

Although ICE has had the authority to assess financial penalties to individuals for failing to depart for more than 20 years, the agency did not initiate enforcement of these penalties until 2018.  As of January 20, 2021, ICE ceased issuing these fines. This formalizes the Biden Administration’s change in direction.

The rescission marks ICE’s latest move toward focusing its limited resources on those posing the greatest risk to national security and public safety in accordance with the current guidance on civil immigration enforcement and removal priorities, which Acting Director Johnson issued on Feb. 18, 2021.

Last Published Date: April 23, 2021

These fines and other punitive measures had a purpose when it was the policy of our government to limit immigration at our Southern border. Under the leadership of Joe Biden and his administration, that policy is no longer in effect; indeed, it is quite the opposite. We now welcome everyone, only hoping that they appreciate our compassion and remember the political party which embraced them with no expectations other than their potential vote.

This new action raises other intriguing possibilities. If we are no longer restricting immigration or enforcing existing laws, do we really need two entire agencies, Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) and Customs and Border Protection (CBP), which exist solely for those purposes? In other words, can we defund or even abolish both ICE and CBP? The annual savings would be 8.3 and 17.7 billion dollars respectively, a total of $26 billion. That’s not chopped liver; it’s real money that can be spent more effectively, as in more diversity and equity initiatives. One possibility would be expansion of the Civil Rights Division of the DOJ, perhaps to a separate agency with enhanced interrogation and enforcement powers.

Ever since the untimely death of George Floyd, the precedent has been set for defunding the police. So why not defund those federal law enforcement agencies that have little or no purpose in a progressive agenda? Of course, we would never defund the FBI or the CIA. But ICE and CBP? It would make perfect sense.

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