Homeland Security announced Friday it was canceling fines for illegal immigrants who refused to leave, and would grant an amnesty for any fines already imposed by the Trump administration.
Secretary Alejandro Mayorkas said the fines weren’t having much effect and so he saw no need to leave them in place.
“We can enforce our immigration laws without resorting to ineffective and unnecessary punitive measures,” he said in a statement.
Mr. Mayorkas did not detail the data on fines that he said led him to believe they were not effective.
He said the department will work with the Treasury Department to cancel the fines migrants had already racked up.
The move is the latest in a series of actions the new administration has taken to lift penalties and ease the life of illegal immigrants who, other than their unlawful status in the country, have managed to keep a relatively clean criminal record.
The power to impose fines has been on the books for several decades, but it had not been done until the Trump administration.
U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement had said at the time it would use the fines both against illegal immigrants who’d been ordered deported but refused to go, and against migrants who had promised to voluntarily depart at a certain time but never left.
ICE issued massive fines, totaling in the hundreds of thousands of dollars, against several high-profile cases of illegal immigrants who were supposed to leave but instead took sanctuary in churches.
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