The Department of Homeland Security is promising to prosecute all illegal migrants, likely reducing the economic incentive for poor migrants to risk jail while trying to get jobs in the United States.
“If you enter our country illegally, you have broken the law and will be referred for prosecution,” said DHS Press Secretary Tyler Houlton said in a May 4 statement. He warned migrants:
DHS has zero tolerance for those who break the law and will no longer exempt classes or groups of individuals from prosecution. Whether you are a single adult or an adult member of a family unit, if you are apprehended you will be prosecuted and put in removal proceeding.
Houlton also warned migrants who try deceive border patrol officers, saying:
To those seeking to abuse our generous laws – we are watching. We will not sit back and watch our laws exploited. If you make a false immigration claim, you will be referred for prosecution. If you assist or coach individuals in making false immigration claims, you will be referred for prosecution.
Houlton’s statement follows the announcement by Attorney General Jeff Sessions that he has added 35 prosecutors to border regions so they can prosecute migrants who sneak across the border or migrants who lie in their asylum claims:
People are not going to “caravan” or otherwise stampede our border. We need legality and integrity in the system. People should wait their turn, ask to apply lawfully before they enter our country. So we’re sending a message worldwide: Don’t come illegally. Make your claim to enter America in the lawful way and wait your turn.
Sessions is also adding judges to the border to help screen the many economic migrants who ask for some form of humanitarian asylum so they can get work permits in the United States.
The new process may help because “make it clear to prospective illegal aliens that borrowing large sums of money is likely to be a catastrophic mistake because they will not be able to recoup that expenditure,“ said Mark Krikorian, the director of the Center for Immigration Studies.
Also, the policy suggests that many migrants will be sent to jail once they are caught a second time. “How many regular construction workers, landscapers, and dishwashers want to spend a year with tattooed gangsters in a federal prison?”
But, he warned, the border policies should be backed up by workplace inspections so that employers are less willing to take the risk of hiring illegals. We’ve seen some of that, but not enough … We need to hear from the DHS secretary [Kirstjen Nielson] a warning for employers as well,” he said.
However, these zero-tolerance policies are unlikely to end the border agencies “catch and release” practices.
These practices are imposed on the border agencies by pro-migration legislators in Congress, who create and keep incentives for migrants to head north, and who also impose many bureaucratic rules which handcuff borders officers’ authority to catch and deport migrants.
The new “zero tolerance” policy worked during the presidency of George W. Bush, when prosecutors in Yuma, N.M., started “Operation Streamline” to quickly prosecute, jail and deport nearly all illegal migrants.
The “zero tolerance” program was dismantled by Attorney General Erc Holder once it had successfully cut the transit of migrants by roughly 95 percent. Initially, officials made 140,000 arrests per year in the mid-2000s, but the northward flow dropped so much that officials only had to make 6,000 arrests in 2013, according to a 2014 letter by two pro-migration Senators, Sen. Jeff Flake and John McCain.
The program worked because border officials were able to quickly process large numbers of migrants and then quickly deport them before they occupied a large percentage of the border agencies’ detention spaces.
Pro-migration Democrats — aided by business donors — will likely try to block the zero-tolerance policy by imposing more bureaucratic burdens. For example, they may try to cut the number of detention spaces or limit courtroom operations.
Houlton’s statement was released after new data showed rising rates of illegal migration:
The recently released April 2018 Southwest Border Migration numbers underscore the continuing security crisis along our southwest border. The number of illegal border crossers increased in April from the previous month, and more than tripled in April 2018 in comparison to April 2017. For the second month in a row, we have seen more than 50,000 individuals try to illegally enter the United States.