Critics of the Biden administration’s handling of the migrant crisis at the southern border have argued that the president’s determination to reverse Trump-era policy has produced an environment in which illegal immigration is not only tolerated, but welcomed, and an alarming decision announced on Friday does little to alter that perception.
As Fox News reports, the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) announced on Friday that it is ending the practice of assessing fines against illegal immigrants who do not depart the country when ordered and collaborating with the Treasury Department to void outstanding debts already assessed.
In explaining the decision, DHS Secretary Alejandro Mayorkas stated, “There is no indication that these penalties promoted compliance with noncitizens’ departure obligations. We can enforce our immigration laws without resorting to ineffective and unnecessary punitive measures.” The statement issued by the secretary also expressed his belief that the financial penalties “run counter to the agency’s best interest” and “had not meaningfully advanced the interests of the agency.”
Though Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) has had the authority to impose these fines for more than two decades, enforcement of the rule did not begin until 2018, pursuant to priorities declared by then-President Donald Trump. According to Fox News, that is when significant fines – often coming to hundreds of dollars per day – were assessed against those who did not leave the country as required.
Not surprisingly, Mayorkas’ announcement was met with harsh criticism from former Acting DHS Secretary Chad Wolf who took to Twitter and said, “Just when you think the Biden administration’s immigration policies and agenda can’t get worse…it does.”
Certainly giving voice the concerns of millions of Americans, Wolf then asked, “How does withdrawing a consequence (i.e. fine) and holding individuals accountable when they overstay their visa and fail to depart in the best interest of DHS?”
The abandonment of key tools in thwarting the current onslaught of migrants seeking entry to the United States has also drawn the ire of Republicans such as Sen. Ted Cruz (R-TX), who argued last month that the situation “will keep getting worse as long as this administration refuses to enforce the law.”
That assessment even found support from a somewhat surprising source, with Mexican President Andrés Manuel López Obrador suggesting that the Biden administration’s high-profile reversals of tough Trump-era immigration policies have created “expectations” among migrants that they will find a warm welcome upon their arrival at the U.S. border, according to the New York Post.
Between the current administration’s restoration of the controversial catch-and-release policy at the border and this decision to end fines for illegal immigrants who do not leave the country when ordered, it is not surprising that more and more Americans are concluding the crushing migrant surge of recent months is not some unforeseen challenge, but rather part of a deliberate strategy to change the makeup of the country.