Posted on July 3, 2019

Trump Administration Plans Fines of a Half-Million Dollars for Illegal Immigrants Who Won’t Leave After Judges Order Their Deportation

David Martosko, Daily Mail, July 3, 2019

The Trump administration is warning some illegal immigrants they will be fined nearly a half-million dollars for refusing to leave the U.S. after judges order their deportation.

National Public Radio reported Tuesday on the case of Edith Espinal-Moreno, an Ohio woman whose ‘removal order’ became official in October 2016.

Instead of going back to her native country, Espinal took refuge 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 U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement estimates that she will have ‘to pay a fine in the amount of $497,777,’ in addition to being kicked out of America.

ICE can levy 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 comes from the Immigration and Nationality Act, passed in 1965, which also allows for other fines.

President Donald Trump is planning to order an aggressive series of illegal-immigrant sweeps after the July Fourth holiday, targeting illegal immigrants like Espinel who have defied immigration judges.

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.

Authorites 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.

She first came to the U.S. as a 16-year-old when her father snuck her in. Now 42, she told WOSU radio.

The mother of three is still waiting in the church, counting on unofficial sanctuary that houses of worship can’t legally offer — but which the federal government has never dared violate.

‘We’re not criminals,’ she told the Dispatch six years ago, before criss-crossing back and forth between the U.S. and Mexico. ‘We’re just people trying to live our lives.’