Department of Justice (DOJ) prosecutors and at least one federal judge appear to not be executing Attorney General Jeff Sessions’ policy of zero tolerance for illegal border crossers.
“If you cross the border unlawfully, then we will prosecute you — it’s that simple. If you smuggle illegal aliens across our border, we will prosecute you,” Sessions said earlier this month. While that sounds absolute in theory, in practice it appears to be quite different, the Washington Times reports.
“It’s a far cry from zero tolerance,” National Border Patrol Council (NBPC) President Brandon Judd told the Times. Judd said that 13 illegal immigrants arrested by San Diego Sector agents on Friday were not prosecuted after the U.S. Attorney for the Southern District of California declined prosecution.
Border Patrol agents told the NBPC president that prosecutors are picking and choosing which cases to prosecute, claiming they do not have enough resources. Agents said a good number of them are being turned down.
One federal judge, Gonzalo P. Curiel, allegedly released migrants without any bond payment. President Donald Trump and his administration have been at odds with Judge Curiel on multiple occasions.
DOJ prosecutors asked that Marbel Yaneth Ramirez-Raudales, one of the caravan migrants arrested in the San Diego Sector, be held on a bond of $10,000, the Times reported. However, Judge Curiel released him on a signature and unsecured bond promise. The migrant was released to the custody of immigration enforcement officials.
The pledge of zero tolerance by Attorney General Sessions appears to be executed on a selective basis depending on location. As an example, Breitbart Texas reported about two illegal immigrants arrested in the Laredo Sector who claimed to be part of the “migrant caravan” after illegally crossing the border.
The Times reported that the two illegal immigrants were prosecuted for illegal entry and the judge sentenced them to 5 days in jail after a plea bargain agreement with prosecutors. In other places, prosecutors say they are not interested in the cases, the article states.
“We are working hand-in-hand with the Department of Homeland Security to ensure a seamless transition to the ‘zero-tolerance policy,’” DOJ spokesman Devin O’Malley said. “Our U.S. Attorneys along the border are aggressively prosecuting cases of illegal entry pursuant to the attorney general’s directive.”
He said the work to implement the zero-tolerance policy will take time and additional resources. “The deterrent effect of prosecutions along the border will begin to take hold,” O’Malley stated.
The administration announced stricter enforcement policies after a massive spike in illegal border crossings in March and April. Recent releases of U.S. Customs and Border Protection’s Southwest Border Migration Report showed increases of more than 200 percent for March and April when compared to the previous year.
Agent Judd said he fought for the zero-tolerance policy during the early days of Trump’s administration. Tough campaign promises led to a drop in illegal border crossings during the first few months after President Trump took office. However, when potential migrants realized that catch and release policies of prior administration were still in effect, the downward migration trend quickly reversed itself. The numbers quickly rose to Obama-era levels, Breitbart Texas reported.
“The fear of deportation and/or prosecution is what caused the historic drop, but because both Congress and the agency didn’t follow through on President Trump’s promises, illegal immigration shot back up,” Judd told the Washington Times. “Congress failed to pass laws that would have closed loopholes in immigration laws currently being exploited, and the agency failed to implement zero-tolerance policies that would’ve ended the catch-and-release program.”
“He’s lost all of the gains he made in 2017 and his frustration is understandable and his anger is not misplaced. He rightfully expected his surrogates to enact his vision and he gave them the necessary tools to succeed; they, however, failed to use those tools and enact zero-tolerance policies until after all the gains were lost,” Judd concluded.
Bob Price serves as associate editor and senior political news contributor for Breitbart Texas. He is a founding member of the Breitbart Texas team. Follow him on Twitter @BobPriceBBTX, GAB, and Facebook.
(Disclosure: Breitbart Texas sponsored the Green Line podcast for the NBPC in an effort to provide a platform for agents to inform the public about the realities on the border and what Border Patrol agents face. Director Brandon Darby received an award from the Laredo chapter of the NBPC for his work in helping to defend and bring a voice to Border Patrol agents.)