The Immigration and Customs Enforcement agency will attempt to reimpose six-figure fines on illegal aliens found to be living in so-called “sanctuary cities” and jurisdictions as a means of stepping up internal enforcement of immigration laws.
The Washington Times reported Saturday that ICE has already levied the fines on about 230 people living illegally in the U.S. inside American churches.
The agency sent additional notices to seven more people last week informing that that unless they check in with authorities their fines could reach into six figures.
ICE is sending notices to people who have defied deportation orders, the Times said.
The reimposition of the high fines comes after an earlier attempt to implement them was rescinded with ICE officials realized they may have missed an important step, the Times noted.
“ICE wants to make it clear that we’re employing every tool we have to urge compliance with judges’ orders. The use of fines will be seen more in the future,” Henry Lucero, ICE’s deputy chief of Enforcement and Removal Operations, told the newspaper.
Under laws that have been in effect for decades, illegal aliens who defy a deportation order can be fined as much as $500 a day or, when adjusted for inflation, as much as $799 per day, for each day they remain in the country illegally beyond their deportation date.
Previous administrations have essentially ignored the law, choosing instead to allow people to remain in the U.S. beyond deportation dates.
However, combatting illegal immigration, which includes stepping up internal enforcement efforts, has been a key policy objective of the Trump administration.
President Trump ran on a platform of building a wall along the U.S.-Mexico border and enforcing existing immigration laws.
Since taking office, the president has instructed the Department of Homeland Security’s immigration and border enforcement agencies to look for enforcement tools to reduce the number of people living in the U.S. illegally.
Reviving fines is one way ICE is complying with the president’s instructions, the Times reported.
“Any effort ICE pursues to ensure compliance is worth it,” Lucero told the paper.