The Dallas Morning News

Sessions visits border

Sessions takes aim at cartels, smugglers of unauthoriz­ed people

- Bloomberg News

U.S. Attorney General Jeff Sessions promised to “take our stand” against cross-border criminal cartels and people smuggling unauthoriz­ed immigrants from Mexico.

U.S. Attorney General Jeff Sessions promised Tuesday to “take our stand” against crossborde­r criminal cartels and people smuggling unauthoriz­ed immigrants from Mexico as part of a plan to get tougher on illegal immigratio­n in what he called “the Trump era.”

“Depravity and violence are their calling cards, including brutal machete attacks and beheadings,” Sessions told border agents in Nogales, Ariz., according to prepared remarks. “It is here, on this sliver of land, where we first take our stand against this filth.”

President Donald Trump said on Twitter later Tuesday, “Gangs & cartels that flood our country will no longer be able to profit from their lawlessnes­s, turn cities into warzones & harm our people!”

Sessions directed federal prosecutor­s in a memo to give priority to prosecutin­g those who smuggle more than three people into the country and those who’ve made repeated border crossings. He proposed felony prosecutio­n for people with two or more misdemeano­r conviction­s for improperly entering the U.S., and he ordered prosecutor­s to get tougher on those who re-enter the country after being deported or who are found guilty of identity theft.

The Justice Department plans to hire 125 more immigratio­n judges over two years, the attorney general said.

“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, according to the text. “The lawlessnes­s, the abdication of the duty to enforce our immigratio­n laws, and the catch and release practices of old are over.”

Homeland Security Secretary John Kelly told a Senate committee last week that border apprehensi­ons of unauthoriz­ed immigrants were down 71 percent in March from December, the last full month before Trump took office. Trump said during the campaign that Mexico was sending criminals and rapists into the U.S., and he called for building a wall along the border, which he said Mexico would pay for. Mexico says it has no intention of doing so.

“While dramatic progress has been made at the border in recent months, much remains to be done,” Sessions told prosecutor­s in the memo. “It is critical that our work focus on criminal cases that will further reduce illegality. Consistent and vigorous enforcemen­t of key laws will disrupt organizati­ons and deter unlawful conduct.”

Sessions’ memo also called for giving top priority to undocument­ed immigrants who have been convicted of an aggravated felony, pose a danger to public safety or have prior administra­tive or criminal violations. He asked prosecutor­s to consider gang affiliatio­ns and “other aggravatin­g circumstan­ces” when moving ahead with cases.

He also asked each border district to designate a bordersecu­rity coordinato­r by next week to work with the Department of Homeland Security and Customs and Border Protection.

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 ?? Ross D. Franklin/The Associated Press ?? “Depravity and violence are their calling cards,” Attorney General Jeff Sessions said of cartels and people smugglers, as he met with border agents in Nogales, Ariz.
Ross D. Franklin/The Associated Press “Depravity and violence are their calling cards,” Attorney General Jeff Sessions said of cartels and people smugglers, as he met with border agents in Nogales, Ariz.

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