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News Flash: DHS Ends Civil Penalties for Failure-to-Depart

On April 23, 2021, the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) announced that it has rescinded two delegation orders which gave certain Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) officials the power to impose civil financial penalties for noncitizens who fail to depart the U.S.

Hand giving money back from wallet.
Hand giving money back from wallet.

What Were the Fees DHS Is Ending?

According to INA §240B(d), if a noncitizen fails to depart voluntarily then the civil penalty could be anywhere between $1,000 and $5,000.

Although ICE has had the authority to impose such financial penalties for more than 20 years, the agency did not actually begin to do so until 2018 when the first delegation order was approved.

Specifically, these are the two delegation orders that have been rescinded:

  • ICE Delegation No. 01-2018, Delegation of Authority to Administer and Enforce Provisions Relating to Civil Penalties for Failure to Depart
  • ICE Delegation No. 006-2020, Delegation of Authority to Administer Certain Provisions Relating to Civil Penalties for Failure to Depart

In practice, ICE stopped imposing these financial penalties earlier this year, on January 20, 2021. ICE also plans to cancel the existing debts of those individuals who have been fined.

Why Is DHS Doing This?

Secretary of Homeland Security Alejandro N. Mayorkas and Acting ICE Director Tae Johnson provided the following reasons for doing away with these penalties:

  • “There is no indication that these penalties promoted compliance with noncitizens’ departure obligations.”
  • The penalties “run counter to the agency’s best interests.”
  • “We can enforce our immigration laws without resorting to ineffective and unnecessary punitive measures.”
  • “The fines were not effective and had not meaningfully advanced the interests of the agency.”

Lastly, this decision allows the agency to use “its limited resources on those posing the greatest risk to national security and public safety.”

The official DHS announcement can be found here.

Sam Shihab & Associates Can Help

If you are an immigrant with any questions or concerns regarding your immigration case, H-1B visas, green card applications, or any other legal matter, speak at once to an experienced Columbus immigration attorney. A good immigration lawyer can help you and your family with any immigration issues you face and defend you if you’re accused of violating immigration law.

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