The Department of Homeland Security will no longer be collecting civil financial penalties for noncitizens who fail to depart from the United States. Secretary Alejandro Mayorkas announced that “[t]here is no indication that these penalties promoted compliance” and that the penalties were “ineffective and unnecessary punitive measures.”

The fines for undocumented workers who failed to leave the country in accordance with an order of deportation were $799 per day. It is reported that one such immigrant who was seeking sanctuary in a church in Ohio was levied a fine of $497,777 (which was ultimately withdrawn after her attorney made the fine public). Fines of that nature were impossible to collect. Indeed, it is reported that ICE was only able to collect about 1% of the fines issued. DHS has had the ability to impose these penalties for twenty years, but they had not been used until 2018, during the Trump administration.

Secretary Mayorkas and Acting ICE Director Tae Johnson explained that the fines were ineffective and that ICE plans to coordinate with the Department of Treasury to cancel any pending debts. ICE stopped assessing these fines on the day President Joe Biden was inaugurated but now the rescission of these fines has been formally announced. This is part of the Biden administration’s overall plan to focus on removing individuals who pose “the greatest risk to national security and public safety.”

Acting Director Tae Johnson is a holdover from the Trump administration, which had eight acting directors of ICE but never a Senate-confirmed Director. On April 27, 2021, President Biden announced that he will nominate Ed Gonzalez, the current Harris County (Texas) Sherriff, to head ICE. Before becoming Sherriff in 2016, Gonzalez spent 18 years in the Houston Police Department and served several terms on the Houston City Counsel. He is known for his opposition to the “zero tolerance” policy and to having local law enforcement act on behalf of the immigration agency.

It is not yet known when his confirmation hearing will be scheduled.

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Photo of Forrest G. Read IV Forrest G. Read IV

Forrest Read is a Principal in the Raleigh, North Carolina, office of Jackson Lewis P.C. He has extensive experience in both business immigration law and employment law and has particular focus in legal issues in graduate medical education (GME).

Mr. Read’s immigration practice…

Forrest Read is a Principal in the Raleigh, North Carolina, office of Jackson Lewis P.C. He has extensive experience in both business immigration law and employment law and has particular focus in legal issues in graduate medical education (GME).

Mr. Read’s immigration practice focuses on assisting employers in obtaining employment-based nonimmigrant visas (e.g., H-1B, L, O, TN) for foreign national employees and work-related immigrant (green card) visas, including PERM Labor Certifications, and advising employers on compliance with U.S. immigration laws and regulations. He has broad experience in advising large, mid-size and small employers on their various immigration needs and developing strategies to help them navigate through complex immigration issues. He also has particular experience in counseling employers in the health care industry and addressing immigration-related issues that arise for their broad range of health care professional employees (including advising on and obtaining employment authorization for medical residents and fellows and obtaining J-1 visa waivers for foreign national physicians completing their medical training in the United States). His immigration practice also includes defending employers in connection with Department of Labor H-1B and H-2B investigations.

Mr. Read’s employment law experience includes representing management, particularly academic medical centers in the GME context, in a wide array of workplace disputes and litigation before federal and state courts and administrative agencies, including matters related to discrimination, retaliation, harassment, disability, family and medical leave, various wage and hour issues, contracts, and intentional torts. He advises academic medical centers on the interplay between applicable academic law and employment law and the ramifications of what are divergent legal requirements and standards. Mr. Read also provides counsel with respect to the legal impact of competency standards for residents and trainees in GME, including situations involving discipline, remediation, and dismissal. He provides advice and guidance in the peer review process, including provision of verification and assessment of training in response to third party inquiries.

As a member of the Firm’s Corporate Diversity Counseling group, Mr. Read also has experience in providing assessments and making recommendations to corporate and institutional clients with respect to diversity and inclusion policies and initiatives, conducting related internal investigations, and shaping, developing and enforcing effective policies and initiatives to ensure consistency with client values and in furtherance of business goals and objectives.