ICE fines woman taking sanctuary in Richmond church $295K

Woman taking sanctuary in Richmond church fined $259k by ICE

RICHMOND, Va. (WWBT) - Fines of hundreds of thousands are being sent to illegal immigrants who have avoided deportation orders, and the latest to get one is an immigrant who has been holed up inside a Richmond church for the past year.

Abbie Arevalo recently got a bill of nearly $300,000 from Immigration and Customs Enforcement.

The mother of three first took refuge at the First Unitarian Universal Church last June. Her lawyer, Alina Kilpatrick, says the church received the notice from ICE that Arevalo had been racking up a fine of $295,630.

“She wasn’t even able to digest the number,” Kilpatrick says, adding that Arevalo has 30 days to appeal the violation.

Attorney Naureen Hyder has worked on immigration cases for almost a decade and said that “removal defense has been a part of immigration for a very long time. It’s just getting a lot of attention in [the Trump] administration.”

Hyder said she has had clients in similar situations as Arevalo and believes these are scare tactics to push illegal immigrants into taking action towards their deportation orders.

“Even if ICE were to come after these individuals, I’m not sure what the recourse would be to get the money," Hyder said. “Especially if an individual is living in sanctuary, they’re not earning any money. They don’t have a savings account that they have to call on."

According to the letter, if a person does not respond to their notice after 30 days, they lose their chance to appeal.

Kilpatrick says her client plans to fight against the total fines, and their last day to appeal is July 26.

“The next step is to file our response and wait and see what happens," Kilpatrick said. "We will continue to fight it to the fullest extent of the law.”

According to an ICE official, the grand total for Alvarado’s fines were calculated through a total of $799 per day of violation.

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