While on a tour of the U.S.-Mexico border this week, Attorney General Jeff Sessions delivered a blistering speech previewing the Justice Department’s plans for getting control of America’s illegal immigration problem.
“For those that continue to seek improper and illegal entry into this country, be forewarned: This is a new era. This is the Trump era,” Sessions said Tuesday in Arizona.
To the crowd, which was populated with Customs and Border Patrol officials, he said: “We hear you and we have your back!”
Sessions then outlined a DOJ strategy aimed at preventing illegal immigrants from coming across the border. Included in the fight will be two new directives: All adults who come across the border shall be detained, and more than 100 new immigration judges are to be appointed and deployed as soon as possible. Combined, the two moves are expected to speed up deportation proceedings and stop illegal immigrants from disappearing into the shadows while awaiting their hearings.
In conjunction with the speech, Sessions’ office released a memo to every U.S. Attorney in the country instructing them to ramp up the swift prosecution of individuals who violate immigration laws. From henceforth, they are to adhere to strict prosecutorial guidelines and refer the following cases for prioritized felony charges: Any repeat offenders (those who cross the border after a prior deportation), any illegal immigrants with gang affiliations or criminal records, anyone caught transporting three or more immigrants across the border, any immigrants caught with falsified documents, and any immigrants charged with assault on police.
“The catch and release practices of old are over,” Sessions said.
In his speech, the attorney general said that Trump’s focus on illegal immigration was already bearing fruit. He pointed out the huge drop in crossings seen since the inauguration, using it as evidence of Trump’s early success.
“This is no accident,” he said. “This is what happens when you have a President who understands the threat, who is not afraid to publicly identify the threat and stand up to it.”