Attorney General Jeff Sessions broke from his tour of the U.S.-Mexico border Tuesday to announce his Justice Department’s sweeping plans for securing the border.
“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 told the crowd of Customs and Border Protection personnel in the border town of Nogales, Arizona. “We hear you and we have your back!” he assured them.
Sessions proceeded to lay out a multifaceted plan to stop illegal aliens entering the country. All adults apprehended at the border are to be detained and at least 125 additional immigration judges are to be appointed and put in the field on an expedited basis. Twenty-five immigration judges have already been deployed to detention centers along the border to help alleviate the massive backlog of cases already piled up there.
Accompanying the address, the Attorney General’s Office issued a memorandum to all US Attorney’s offices, instructing them on dramatically stricter prosecution guidelines for immigration offenses: all repeat illegal entry offenders are to be referred for felony prosecution; all cases in which an illegal alien is caught reentering the United States after removal are now to be considered for felony prosecution, with priority given to those with other criminal records or gang affiliations; prosecuting those caught transporting three or more illegal aliens will now be a priority; illegal aliens and their smugglers caught with fraudulent documentation, as they often are, are to be charged with aggravated identity theft; and prosecuting any assault on federal law enforcement, included CBP personnel, is to be a “top priority.”
“The catch and release practices of old are over,” Sessions said.
By the beginning of next week, every US Attorney’s office is to have a “Border Security Coordinator” to help carry out the Justice Department plan. Not only will those coordinators be charged with overseeing and advising on the new guidelines, they are commanded to assemble and report statistics on their implementation.
The Attorney General touted the 40 percent reported drop in illegal crossings at the southern border since President Donald Trump took office while unveiling the plan. “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.”
Sessions closed by referring back to the crimes by “caught and released” illegals that captured the nation’s attention:
Why are we doing this? Because it is what the duly enacted laws of the United States require. I took an oath to protect this country from all enemies, foreign and domestic. How else can we look the parents and loved ones of Kate Steinle, Grant Ronnebeck, and so many others in eye and say we are doing everything possible to prevent such tragedies from ever occurring again?