The Dallas Morning News
Sessions visits border
Sessions takes aim at cartels, smugglers of unauthorized people
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.