The federal government will no longer fine illegal aliens who fail to depart from the U.S. and it plans to pursue the cancellation of any currently outstanding debts for people who previously incurred such financial penalties.
"There is no indication that these penalties promoted compliance with noncitizens' departure obligations," Department of Homeland Security Secretary Alejandro Mayorkas said in a statement. "We can enforce our immigration laws without resorting to ineffective and unnecessary punitive measures."
While U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement had already stopped issuing such fines as of Jan. 20, 2021 — the day that President Biden was sworn into office — two delegation orders pertaining to the collection of the fines were rescinded on Friday, according to a Department of Homeland Security press release.
"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 press release noted.
"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 press release also said.